10.06.09

Gemini version available ♊︎

The FTC Should Bite AstroTurfers, Not Just Bark at Them

Posted in Deception, Law, Marketing, Microsoft at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US Capitol

Summary: FTC reiterates threat to AstroTurfing activities, but still fails to police anything based on its newly-ratified rules

THE FTC is one of those publicly-funded institutions that give people the feeling that the government is in control and always protects the collective interests of the citizens. Like the FCC and the Federal Reserve, their use of words is very witty and “Federal” comes to imply that it is purely federal, but in reality the control is reserved by companies like Microsoft and other conflicting interests (people move back and forth between commerce and governance/regulation).

The many complaints to the FCC mean nothing at all unless they are filed at a high volume like hundreds or thousands, based on experience.

Upon filing a complaint against Microsoft AstroTurfing, for instance, the FTC responded with a formal letter, but has not taken any real action. They told us that they expect more similar letters before they take action and mass-mailing of letters is Microsoft’s expertise; it hires de facto AstroTurfing agencies like CAGW and ACT to carry out this job. In their terms, this it called “lobbying”. Microsoft uses the strategy not only to affect public policy and not just to review products but to also troll opposition. There are many examples that are well documented.

The FTC is once again reciting old news about cracking down on AstroTurfers. Here is the report hosted by Microsoft’s ‘news’ site [1, 2].

The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.

Our reader Goblin wrote this post in relation to Microsoft, which is currently AstroTurfing in Twitter.

You may remember me reporting a while ago that the FTC were looking into bloggers and their “independent” views which are as a result of freebies or gifts. You may remember that we have exposed these gift receivers before and rightly ask “How much worth can you put into the words of someone receiving gifts?“

In my opinion much pro-proprietary software opinion is based on gifts (or the possibility of recieving them) and since the personal blog is looked at a whole lot differently than a mainstream news outlet, its even more important that the views in a blog are those of honest held belief.

[...]

Anyone found to be not disclosing could be liable for a fine of up to $11,000. This, in my opinion is something which is long overdue. I’ve said before that the personal blog holds alot more weight (IMO) than the PR sheets or mainstream features of the latest hardware/software.

It did not take long for one of Microsoft’s potential AstroTurf accounts to react to the above and there is more coverage at TechDirt and Ars Technica.

The FTC has announced new rules governing “consumer-generated” media outlets and product endorsements. Bloggers who fail to disclose their relationships with manufacturers and advertisers face five-digit fines.

Here is the original message from the FTC:

A bunch of folks have been sending in the fact that the FTC has (as was widely expected) approved new rules on “endorsements” or “testimonials,” including a section on bloggers or “word-of-mouth marketers.”

Some of Microsoft’s PR agencies use illegal tactics. Microsoft outsources its AstroTurfing activities, so the FTC should start with these agencies. The stated fine is $11,000 per post, so given what Microsoft does for Vista 7, for instance, Microsoft would theoretically go bankrupt had these rules been applied and truly enforced.

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

2 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    October 7, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Gravatar

    “so given what Microsoft does for Vista 7, for instance, Microsoft would theoretically go bankrupt”
    Well, I would not go that far to say MS would go bankrupt, but yes $11000 per blog post can be a lot of money.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 13, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Gravatar

    The Better Business Bureau is also where bad business practices can be reported — if there aren’t ‘Microsoft Friends(tm) on the inside already:
    http://www.bbb.org/us/

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Portuguese Network of Enablers

    Instead of serving Portuguese people or serving thousands of EPO workers (including many who are Portuguese) the delegation from Portugal served the network of Campinos



  2. In Picture: After Billions Spent on Marketing, With Vista 11 Hype and Vapourware, No Real Gains for Windows

    The very latest figures from Web usage show that it’s hardly even a blip on the radar; Windows continues bleeding to death, not only in servers



  3. [Meme] [Teaser] Double-Dipping Friedrich Rödler

    As we shall see tomorrow night, the EPO regime was supported by a fair share of corrupt officials inside the Administrative Council



  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIV: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Portugal

    How illegal “Strike Regulations” and regressive ‘reforms’ at the EPO, empowering Benoît Battistelli to the detriment of the Rule of Law, were ushered in by António Campinos and by Portugal 5 years before Campinos took Battistelli’s seat (and power he had given himself)



  5. Links 16/10/2021: SparkyLinux Turns 10 and Sculpt OS 21.10

    Links for the day



  6. “Facebook Whistleblowers” Aside, It Has Been a Dying Platform for Years, and It's Mentally Perverting the Older Generation

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  7. [Meme] Microsoft Has Always Been About Control Over Others

    Hosting by Microsoft means subjugation or a slavery-like relationship; contrary to the current media narrative, Microsoft has long been censoring LinkedIn for China’s autocratic regime; and over at GitHub, as we shall show for months to come, there’s a war on information, a war on women, and gross violations of the law



  8. EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  9. The Reign in Spain

    Discussion about the role of Spain in the EPO‘s autocratic regime which violates the rights of EPO staff, including Spanish workers



  10. [Meme] Spanish Inquisition

    Let it be widely known that Spain played a role in crushing the basic rights of all EPO workers, including hundreds of Spaniards



  11. Why You Shouldn’t Use SteamOS, a Really Incompetent GNU/Linux Distribution With Security Pitfalls (Lutris is a Great Alternative)

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  12. IRC Proceedings: Friday, October 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, October 15, 2021



  13. Links 16/10/2021: Xubuntu 21.10 and DearPyGui 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  14. DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  15. Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  16. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Spain

    The EPO‘s António Campinos is an ‘Academy’ of overt nepotism; what Benoît Battistelli did mostly in France Campinos does in Spain and Portugal, severely harming the international image of these countries



  17. From Competitive (Top-Level, High-Calibre, Well-Paid) Jobs to 2,000 Euros a Month -- How the EPO is Becoming a Sweatshop by Patent Examiners' Standards

    A longish video about the dreadful situation at the EPO, where staff is being ‘robbed’ and EPO funds get funnelled into some dodgy stock market investments (a clear violation of the institution’s charter)



  18. [Meme] Protecting European Patent Courts From EPO 'Mafia'

    With flagrant disregard for court rulings (or workarounds to dodge actual compliance) it seems clear that today's EPO management is allergic to justice and to judges; European Patents perish at unprecedented levels in national European courts and it should be kept that way



  19. Links 15/10/2021: Pine64's New PinePhone Pro and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Codename

    Links for the day



  20. [Meme] GitHub Isn't Free Hosting, It's All About Control by Microsoft

    Deleting GitHub isn’t a political statement but a pragmatic decision, seeing how Microsoft routinely misuses its control over GitHub to manipulate the market



  21. With EPO 'Strike Regulations' Belatedly Ruled Unlawful, EPO Management May be Lowering the Salary Even Further by Introducing Outside 'Temps' or Casual Workers

    Institutional capture by an 'IP' (litigation) Mafia is nearly complete; with illegal so-called (anti) 'Strike Regulations' out the door, they're quickly moving on to another plan, or so it seems on the surface



  22. Links 15/10/2021: 95% of Ransomware Targets Windows

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 14, 2021



  24. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection

    The EPO‘s presidency (led by Frenchmen for nearly 15 years out of the past 18 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are both French despite their somewhat misleading surnames) is extremely unlikely to even be mildly scrutinised by the French delegates because of a web of nepotism and protectionism



  25. [Meme] Another Maladministration Meeting Comes to an End

    Did the EPO‘s overseeing body properly tackle Benoît Battistelli‘s illegal acts, authorised by that very same overseeing body? Don’t hold your breath as António Campinos continues to crack down on staff (maybe ILOAT will rule on it in 2030)



  26. Links 14/10/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.2, Happy Birthday to Jolla, Ubuntu 21.10, Devuan GNU+Linux 4.0, OpenBSD 7.0

    Links for the day



  27. [Teaser] What Miguel de Icaza Really Thinks of the CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Following the opening of a new series about Microsoft GitHub we drop a little teaser today; we expect dozens of parts to be released in the coming weeks/months as facts are being validated and organised



  28. Splitting the Time to Cover More Leaks and Exposés

    We take stock of Part 11 of the ongoing EPO series (“EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion”) and explain what caused various delays yesterday; we may have to up our pace a little in order to keep up with an influx of leaks and whistleblowers



  29. [Meme] Destroying the Workplace

    The working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative CouncilThe working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative Council



  30. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists

    Today we commence a new series that implicates Microsoft, GitHub, Copilot, and Team Mono


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts