Microsoft Crime Persists: AstroTurfing a Regular Practice, Reddit Full of Paid Microsoft AstroTurfers
“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: Infiltrating social networks is one of Microsoft’s strategic operations and this brings back older evidence, complementing the new
Several years ago I complained that Reddit had been filled with Microsoft influence [1, 2], similar to what happened to Digg [1, 2] and Slashdot [1, 2, 3, 4]. Well, Microsoft has just been caught AstroTurfing through proxies again. For a criminal company which tries to legitimise racketeering, this is actually a relatively minor offence, but still, it should be noted.
Microsoft’s AstroTurfing on the Web is nothing new and Microsoft’s shadowy PR agencies are, as usual, are managing it. Microsoft did this with Nokia too, Nokia being the proxy at the time (Nokia is also a patents proxy).
As for the evidence of the latest claims, here it is:
Looks like Microsoft just got busted for doing something on Reddit that is a big no-no, according to a Redditor that goes by the name “mistysilver.”
Representatives of Microsoft may be hanging out on the social news site voting up positive comments about the Xbox One, voting down negative comments and adding pro-Xbox comments of their own, Misty Silver says.
Misty Silver didn’t reveal his/her real identity, except to say. “I work for a marketing firm in Redmond that has a contract with Microsoft. I can’t say specifically which division, but suffice to say we are not involved with the Xbox.”
I have been a victim of systematic down-voting, demonisation, identity theft etc. in Digg and elsewhere. Now we know for a fact that Microsoft hires people to do such things. Xbox is a rogue product which significantly harms privacy and consumers' rights (we correctly called the coverage fake hype and paid-for nonsense; to give one example, “[s]hifting the blame from Microsoft” is what iophk calls this latest odd piece), boosted by illegal practices that the FTC said it would go after (but never really did, it was just a face-saving announcement).
“We asked Microsoft for comment on if they have people on their payroll using Reddit,” says the report. This question is asked improperly because Microsoft uses its many proxies to hire the AstroTurfers, as we repeatedly demonstrated before. Microsoft can try to deny using a cleverly-worded reply. “They won’t use their own payroll,” iophk pointed out. “It will be a contractor or sub contractor or subsub contractor etc” (we covered this before).
Gates and Ballmer, with the two operations they run for patent profiteering, do not do the illegal directly. Their PR department is not inside Microsoft, either. It is just like Intellectual Ventures. When you break the law you always try to obfuscate and remove yourself from a position of accountability. The thing about those thugs is, their “Communications” (PR) heads are often hired from one of these proxies, like Waggener Edstrom (also working to hide or rewrite the scams of the Gates Foundation).
Those who like Canonical can pretend that Microsoft has changed [1, 2, 3, 4] are doing everyone a massive disservice, helping to lend credibility to what clearly remains a criminal enterprise where ordinary people get abused and accomplices share a loot with Ballmer, Gates, and the rest of this legendary Mafia. If you had been on the receiving end of their attacks, you too would understand how serious this whole matter is and why federal action is needed. The FTC hardly did a thing when I filed formal complaints about these abuses by Microsoft; the FTC is there to serve corporations (as in rich managers and shareholders), not people. This means that nobody is regulating against AstroTurfing, not in the land of PRISM anyway. █