03.10.09

New Articles About Lobbying and AstroTurfing

Posted in America, Europe, Finance, Fraud, Marketing, Microsoft at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Funny man

Summary: Four more reports/essays shed light on the quaky waters holding — or breaking — the system of commerce

Microsoft’s perversion of the EU system as of late [1, 2, 3] (using hired guns) will not end until people stand up and demand change. On the face of it, rules that were proposed or introduced just over a year ago are not being obeyed because lobbyists are not interested in disclosing their activities, which they would rather conduct behind closed door with budgets and funding sources that they keep secret. As EurActiv has just put it:

Large numbers of businesses, consultancies and industry federations do not intend to sign up to the European Commission’s lobbyists register, found a EurActiv survey presented at a conference last Wednesday (4 March).

It’s not only Microsoft which does this. A lot of US-based companies are doing the same kind of thing in Europe, as detailed here:

Lobbying by U.S. businesses in Brussels is not unusual. More than 30 U.S. companies like Pfizer, Microsoft, McDonald’s, Philip Morris, Westinghouse and Kraft Foods employ lobbyists in Brussels, according to the European Parliament. Foreign countries and businesses also hire lobbyists to work in Washington. But most of the time, lobbying by foreign entities tends to be discreet.

“The author has no idea what lobbying of US companies [such] as Microsoft in Europe is like, rather makes up his mind what it is supposed to be,” says a person who sent this news to us. Also, according to him, Microsoft somehow managed to have the EU fund its own lobby group (formal evidence in europe.eu).

Visa, Microsoft join EU fight against Internet child

[...]

The European Commission will provide up to 427,000 euros (537,000 dollars) in funding for the new coalition which was officially launched by Barrot and others on Tuesday at the London headquarters of CEOP.

The amazing thing here is that Microsoft gets positive PR at the expense of European taxpayers. Microsoft did similar things in Australia not so long ago. It was only similar but not identical because it’s akin to EDGI more than anything else. The core idea is to dump software so as to be anti-competitive and at the same time claim to be charitable (in this case, claim to protect children, as opposed to helping their education).

If that’s not bad enough, on top of the lobbying there is AstroTurfing, of which we include many examples in the links at the bottom. There is a new essay about additional evidence because this receives a lot of media coverage at the moment.

Fresh off the presses, another asstroturfing site brags about how they game social bookmarking like it was Three-Card Monte. The story got posted on Reddit so Redditors can laugh and point at Digg, as if the exact same thing never happens on Reddit.

Of all the spam and advertising fraud out there, it is perhaps asstroturfing that is the meanest. Asstrturfers undermine the social web. The story you see that’s voted up to the front page, even though it’s a troll? People were paid to vote that up. Your social-network-site “friend” who recommends spams and scams to you non-stop? He’s paid to pretend to be your friend. The comments that flood a story, flaming about one side of the issue, insulting and modding down everybody who objects, and make it sound like it’s the world-against-you? They’re paid actors. The troll who harassed you in a thread for numerous replies until you gave up in frustration? Paid to do that.

More hilarity can be found here:

Social media marketing is a tricky balance. If you can come up with a viral smash hit, there’s nothing better. But if you grossly underestimate the intelligence of the community you’re targeting- it can create devastating backlash

Unless the system reforms itself by expelling parasites, it will merely protect — sometimes in highly abusive ways — the minority of opulent from the large majority — or as FFII tactfully puts it — the digital majority.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2009/03/10/lobbying-and-astroturfing/

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