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More Microsoft AstroTurfing (aka 'Technical Evangelism') in Twitter

"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 [PDF]



Crazy face



Summary: Kirk Evans is given as an example of Microsoft guerrilla marketing in Twitter

"Microsoft stalkers," called them our source, whose account was addressed by a Microsoft "Technical Evangelist". That's exactly the type of people whom James Plamondon was training in order to promote Microsoft very aggressively, to this very date.



Let's step back just a bit and see the example we have at hand. Our source writes:

Having read Microsoft's IE8: Get The Facts website I posted on our Twitter channel that I'd seen it and thought is was priceless FUD.

Within minutes I got a Microsoft employee following us on Twitter and requesting that Sirius e-mail him to discuss "discuss IE8 opptys" (whatever that means).

See http://twitter.com/kaevans

The MS person responsible is Kirk Evans, an architecture evangelist based in Texas. Note the wallpaper on his Twitter channel is a pile of horse shit.

I'm intrigued to say the least. What's the horse shit all about? Why should an architecture evangelist care about us pointing out what 90% of the tech industry already knows? The question is, is he approaching every person who criticises this new IE: Get The Facts website?

His Twitter channel includes gems such as:

"Laughing at the slander against #IE8 and the #GetTheFacts site http://tinyurl.com/mj38ly all bile, no substance. Truth hurts."

This is full on, aggressive technology evangelism/indoctrination where Microsoft 'evangelists' are employed to use Twitter et al to silence critics.

Whilst I'm quite keen to reply to him (just for the fun of it) I'm a little concerned that my 'card will be marked'.


Microsoft does not deny using Twitter to do its PR, marketing, AstroTurfing, evangelism or whatever they wish to call it (many euphemisms exist and Orwellian language is a spinner's best friend). We wrote about this type of activity from Microsoft at Twitter in:



Based on experience, those who routinely write about Microsoft products (i.e. mention the company's name or product names) tend to sooner or later be followed or pinged somehow. Microsoft wants these people on its side. One of our readers, Goblin, has experimented to show this empirically. Some of the potential Microsoft bots/AstroTurfers appear to be mass-twitting the same promotional or provocative messages. They defame Microsoft's competition and promote Microsoft for the most part.

This account is a good example, but shortly after I had complained about it for abuse (identical, abrasive messages sent to many strangers separately) it started saying "This person has protected their updates."

Dodgy.

“Microsoft is connected to partners via Twitter and it uses PR agencies to do much/all this work.”As examples in the posts above show, I have had what seems like Microsoft bots following me (to be fair, other companies use similar tactics of re-Twitting messages about their products). The same goes for Microsoft managers like Oliver Bell, who apparently wants to keep an eye on what I write about OOXML, which is his area. He also speaks about Boycott Novell in person.

Microsoft is connected to partners via Twitter and it uses PR agencies to do much/all this work. That distances the dirty tactics from the company this way, leaving itself less sensitive to scrutiny.

Microsoft's PR department (Waggener Edstrom) has already developed new tools to spy on Twits -- to then respond to them appropriately. It's not just a Twitter thing, but this in general is how Microsoft manages to identify damaging posts/articles and intercept them quickly, before people notice. A recent example would be a negative Surface review that they had removed very quickly by phoning the blogger.

Microsoft has always done such things (The Inquirer in particular dares to blow the whistle on censorship attempts and bribes), but with Twitter it is a lot more visible for people to see because the equivalent of E-mail is made public. The anti-ODF campaign from Microsoft is a good example where Twits said a mouthful about what the company has been doing. See the most recent examples in:



If people wish to see how aggressively --and that's putting it gently -- Microsoft competes, Twitter may be an entertaining read. With the intrusion of marketing scum like Pay2Tweet, the death of the platform's inherent trust may be imminent. Twitter already declines in terms of traffic, like all other Web sites which get hijacked by marketing agents who seize an opportunity.

Related:



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