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[News] Fact: Microsoft is Hiring AstroTurfing Groups

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The Plot to Kill Google

,----[ Quote ]
| For PR support in that campaign, Microsoft turned to LMG, a secretive 
| Washington DC public affairs firm that specializes in astroturf campaigns. 
| Thompson and Vogelstein expect the anti-Google campaign to intensify in 2009, 
| with a focus on painting the company as a threat to personal privacy.   


LawMedia Group

,----[ Quote ]
| LawMedia Group -- also referred to as LMG -- is a secretive Washington DC 
| public affairs firm. The firm's website says it "unites the worlds of law, 
| communications, strategic counseling and crisis management into seamless 
| campaigns for Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, start-ups and 
| non-profits." [1] Ads for LMG describe its services as including "government 
| relations" (lobbying), "grassroots lobbying," "issue / initiative / petition 
| management," "media production" and "opposition research." [2]      


Microsoft is a dangerous political movement and as Ralph Nader says, it needs
to be shut down.


Corn Farmers Against Google?

,----[ Quote ]
| Only if they're planting in AstroTurf
| [...]
| How do you know the organization, and the op-ed, weren't created by LawMedia
| Group at the behest of some well-funded clients? If they did their jobs
| right, you don't know.
| Some of them have left digital fingerprints here and there, though, says
| Declan McCullagh, in a blockbuster of a report exposing the intellectual
| whoredom offered for various important issues. Shortly after Microsoft hired
| LawMedia, for example, legislators, national agencies, and news outlets
| received pointed complaints from coalitions of farmers, rural voters, and
| geeky Latinos about how Google's advertising deal with Yahoo would wreck
| everything.
| [...]
| Don't call them a PR firm or a lobbying firm though, Law Media – which has a
| ton of lawyers working for them too—is a "public affairs firm" specializing
| in producing "remarkable coalitions" for anything one might need a coalition
| for.


China's Online Persuaders

,----[ Quote ]
| China's webspace is infamous for censorship, but increasingly, public
| relations firms there are helping their clients "manage" online
| conversations. China-based firms such as Daqi, Chinese Web Union and
| CIC "charge $500 - $25,000 monthly to monitor postings and squelch negative
| information or to create positive buzz," reports BusinessWeek.


Now Hiring - Astroturfer, apply at Microsoft

,----[ Quote ]
| Evidently, a "Senior Marketing Manager" has the responsibility of:
|     * "assisting in defining and driving core marketing initiatives – most
|     specifically online & offline community-building"
|     * "further the dialogue on the value of the Microsoft platform to open
|     source audiences"
|     * "be a cornerstone for a global thought leadership website and will be
|     regularly featured in industry press around the world"
|     * "act as a visible external evangelist for Microsoft"
| Wow! That's all direct quotes from the job description. It is so blatant, I'm
| beginning to wonder if it's some kind of joke. Particularly the 'evangelist'
| line.
| Kind of like the famous Halloween documents, this posting really tips
| Microsoft's hand and shows us exactly what they're thinking. After all the
| smoke and mirrors over the deals with Linux distros Suse, Linspire, Xandross,
| and Turbo Linux, this shows that those distros were in fact acquired in order
| to be killed. It's not Linux that Microsoft wants, it's the customers.




Microsoft Pays $200 for Mentioning Its Tools

,----[ Quote ]
| If you're a professor and you mention Microsoft programming tools in a
| scholarly presentation -- in fact, even if you just use the tools --
| Microsoft will send you a check for $200.  


The Best Enthusiasm Money Can Buy

,----[ Quote ]
| We might think that spending several hundreds of millions of dollars every
| year on commercial speech would be just about enough to allow any company
| to "tell its story" to the public. But we would not be Microsoft, who the Los
| Angeles Times revealed was gearing up a multi-million dollar public relations
| campaign which included planting ersatz letters to the editor in major
| national newspapers. The goal: to create the appearance, if not the reality,
| of "grassroots" support for the company.      
| "Spontaneous" testimonials penned by hired guns may not be an entirely novel
| idea in the surreal world of public relations, but Microsoft's response to
| having been caught in the act of committing such a crass act was certainly
| uncommon. At first, the company denied their intentions to actually implement
| such a plan. Then, a few days later, company spokespersons announced a new
| spin: Microsoft has a perfect right to engage in public opinion manipulation
| campaigns, if that's what it takes to "tell its story."      
| Now, what exactly was that story, again?


Microsoft pays star writers to recite slogan

,----[ Quote ]
| The stodgy old media industry has a rule that newspaper reporters, and TV
| news hosts, shouldn't trade on their public trust to endorse products.


Malik, Arrington and Battelle: X-22, come in [to Microsoft]

,----[ Quote ]
| What would possess a collection of online publishers and venture capitalists
| to pimp a Microsoft advertising slogan?
| Valleywag today reported about a site tied to a Microsoft ad campaign
| where the likes of Michael Arrington, Om Malik and others seemingly
| lend their support to the "people-ready" catchphrase.
| I sent e-mails both to Arrington and Malik and--surprise,
| surprise--heard nothing back. (Obviously, they are not yet
| sufficiently "Coop-ready.") Microsoft was still checking for me into  
| whether money exchanged hands. But even if not a single shekel exchanged
| hands, I must wonder about the absence of common sense. Why would
| ostensibly independent voices come across as Microsoft shills? If
| they were hoping for a free dinner with Bill Gates, there are
| smarter ways to go about it.


,----[ Quote ]
| "The main thing I'm pissed off about right now is that they pulled all the
| ads, which mean we're taking a revenue hit. We're running a business here,
| and have payroll to make. We run ads to make that payroll. Those ads have now
| been pulled."
| Microsoft once again corrupts confidence in the blogsphere. They
| turn 'citizen journalists' to marketing people in disguise.


How's the Reception at [Microsoft's] Channel 9?

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates emphasized the importance of blogging in a
| May 2004 speech during the company's annual CEO summit. But Gates doesn't
| blog; same for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
| [...]
| Many Microsoft employees do blog, reportedly more than 4,000 of them.
| The number of employee bloggers was comparatively quite small, about
| 300, before the launch of Channel 9 and the success of Scoble's blog.
| Last year could be called year of the blog at Microsoft. Employee
| blogrolls swelled and Microsoft bloggers disseminated lots of
| vital information about the company. Increasingly, employee
| bloggers are becoming Microsoft's primary evangelists. They are
| certainly a group over which the company can exact some control
| and which can spin information to Microsoft's advantage.


Is Seven Renegade, Guerrilla Marketer or Fake?

,----[ Quote ]
| Some kudos for Microsoft: If Seven is a sanctioned guerrilla marketer, he or
| she has been too long waiting to blog. Microsoft, you need to get some good
| leaks out there to generate buzz. Please, let's see more of this. Be
| aggressive, take marketing risks. A blog such as this is worth millions of
| dollars in advertising, if it delivers the goods (meaning details) and
| generates buzz.      


Recidivist M$ Up to New Tricks

,----[ Quote ]
| Unleash the Astro-Turfers!
| Already on Apple oriented developer mailing lists one can see the
| astro-turfing has begun. A really amateurish attempt by 'Mac Developer' (no
| one uses a stupid handle like that) turned up today.  


Meet Thomas Brooks. He's a viral marketer for Microsoft.

,----[ Quote ]
| It's unfortunate that paid blogging is becoming all the more prevalent in
| communities like 1UP. And it's not just the blogs or reviews, it's also the
| message boards. Microsoft, for instance, also has a person (or people?) who
| is paid to post on some of the popular gaming boards (and no, Jeff Bell
| wasn't part of that plan). But it's not just Microsoft -- I know of a few
| other game publishers who pay users to blog. They don't necessarily require
| bloggers to say positive things about their products, but it's certainly
| implied with the paychecks.      
| What bums me out about all this viral stuff is that, to some extent, you
| don't know who to trust anymore. There was a time when, if you no longer
| believed in what the professional editors where saying, you could at least
| count on your fellow gamers for honest opinions. Not anymore. In a sense,
| perhaps that helps elevate the importance of the professional word once
| again, which I suppose is a good thing for us. But I'm still not happy about
| it.      


,----[ Quote ]
| In 2001, the Los Angeles Times accused Microsoft of astroturfing
| when hundreds of similar letters were sent to newspapers voicing
| disagreement with the United States Department of Justice and its
| antitrust suit against Microsoft. The letters, prepared by Americans
| for Technology Leadership, had in some cases been mailed from
| deceased citizens or nonexistent addresses.


Microsoft Using YouTube To Promote Vista & Live, Leaves Comments Open

,----[ Quote ]
| The more interesting aspect is that Microsoft would use the Google owned
| YouTube for such as promotion; it certainly demonstrates just how powerful
| the market position of YouTube has become over the last 2 years that
| Microsoft would use it to promote their products.  


Notable examples of viral marketing

,----[ Quote ]
| # ilovebees.com - viral marketing for Halo 2
| # Hotmail, promoted largely by links at the bottoms of emails sent by
| its users, is the classic viral marketing example
| # Microsoft's Origami Project campaign
| # Microsoft's Xbox 360 campaign, called OurColony


MSN Is Spamming The Blogosphere

,----[ Quote ]
| Mr. Youth LLC is a marketing firm and lists MSN as a customer.  Their
| website is here: http://www.mryouth.com/  Their phone number is
| (212) 779-8700.
| I've talked to a couple of other bloggers who said they are receiving
| similar comments on their blogs.  This pisses me off because MSN/Mr.
| Youth should 1) be more upfront about their true identity, and 2)
| provide a real e-mail address so that I can request they take my
| blog off their marketing campaign.


,----[ Quote ]
|     "Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using
| online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues
| of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it
| was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers
| and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who
| liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows wont
| he operating-system war through fifth-column tactics"
|     Mr Dvorak wonders if Microsoft is today using reverse-dirty-tricks
| to promote the Xbox 360: pay people to create Web sites that slam the
| gaming computer in order to provoke a barrage of defenders.


Microsoft really loves Bloggers !!!

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft regularly flies customers and industry experts to its
| campus in Washington to listen to the feedback given by those
| people.The company invites dozens of key customers and partners
| to the event,where they spend brainstorming as a group.But as of
| late, Microsoft has changed it's strategy and the company is
| making extensive use of blogs to get direct customer feedback.
| Within a year,more than 1000 Microsoft employee blogs featured
| developers and product managers talking directly to customers every
| day, instead of once a year.Microsoft employees read dozens of
| blogs every day to see how customers react to Microsoft products
| and services. In fact,Microsoft employees have taken a bigger leap
| and even contribute to other's blogs in the expanding space of
| Blogosphere.


Microsoft Traps and Hunts for Bloggers in India !!

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft has announced the "Microsoft BlogStars" contest, to Hunts
| for Developer Bloggers in India. After feeling the power and increase of
| the Bloggers community in India, Microsoft tries to trap and hunt Bloggers
| in India to buildup the blogging community, for writing blog posts
| supporting towards Microsoft Technologies.


Seattle Area Bloggers Needed for Microsoft User Research Study

,----[ Quote ]
| For your participation, we'll give you your choice of retail
| software and hardware from our extensive list. Current titles
| include the latest Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC games, keyboards,
| Microsoft Office, Windows, productivity software and much more.


Bloggers meet Mr. Bill (Gates)

,----[ Quote ]
| That meeting is to help Web developers understand how to "unlock new
| revenue opportunities" through technology and content, which could
| include podcasts and blogs. The Microsoft sessions wraps up with a
| one-hour q-and-a up with Bill Gates.


Bribing Bloggers

,----[ Quote ]
| This is the most frustrating thing about the practice of giving
| bloggers free stuff: it pisses in the well, reducing the credibility
| of all blogs. I'm upset that people trust me less because of the
| behavior of other bloggers. Don't even get me started about PayPerPost.
| [...]
| Do not, under any circumstances, consider upgrading an XP system to
| Vista... even if it's fairly new and even if it's Vista Supremo
| Premium Ultra-Capable.


Microsoft's Laptop Giveaway Becoming PR Disaster?

,----[ Quote ]
| This thing is starting to feel like a PR disaster. Bloggers are
| starting to smell blood and this thing very well may begin to
| turn into yet another episode of bloggers gone wild.


Bribing Bloggers

,----[ Quote ]
| It's a bribe. Period. You say nice things about us, you get nice
| things from us. Heck, just say neutral things about us-we'll give
| you a killer new laptop and we know that you'll be inclined to say
| better things about us.


Getting a Vaio [with Vista, from Microsoft, even in March 2007]

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft Belgium rang me yesterday (I don?t think they realised it
| was a public holiday here!).
| [...]
| The phone call yesterday was to confirm my address - the laptop (a
| Sony Vaio - dunno which model or spec yet) is en route with Vista
| Ultimate and Office Ultimate pre-installed.


INQhack survives Vistability test in Volesville

,----[ Quote ]
| The Vole (Microsoft) supposedly invited The INQ over for tea because
| we are notorious "Microsoft doubters" - and we were accompanied by
| other supposed Vole doubters such as the folk from lifehacker and
| a very nice man from Slashdot, as well as some Microsoft MvPs.


Microsoft desperately wants my love -- and yours

,----[ Quote ]
| I spent December seventh, eighth, and ninth in Seattle as Microsoft's
| guest. Microsoft flew me there from Florida at its expense, put me up
| in a nice hotel, provided decent food, and comped me and four other
| invitees to this "special conference" with presentations about the
| marvels of Vista and other recent or upcoming Microsoft products. They
| didn't quite play the old Beatles song "Love Me Do" in the background,
| but it was the event's unstated theme.


Microsoft funding bankrupt Live Search experiment with porn spam

,----[ Quote ]
| Dear reader, please tell me: what do you think of a search engine that steals
| (bandwidth and AdSense revenue), lies, spams away, and is not clever enough
| to stop their criminal activities when they’re caught?  
| Recently a Live Search rep whined in an interview because so many robots.txt
| files out there block their crawler...


Microsoft’s Club Live fiasco

,----[ Quote ]
| People were using the macro on more than 3 games at a time, on more than 2
| accounts at a time, why Microsoft didn’t pick up on the fact that in the
| first few days some people had accumulated enough for 3 Zunes each is beyond
| us. Some were lucky, others, not so much.  
| [...]
| So far no one has been banned from using their accounts, which they needed to
| sign up, probably because they did not break any laws, or probably because
| Microsoft didn’t want that hassle and liked their new found traffic.  


Bots Helped To Boost Microsoft Live Search Gains

,----[ Quote ]
| In a blog post, Compete analyst Steve Willis attributed Microsoft's
| search gains to prizes awarded to users participating in Live Search
| Club, which features games that post queries to Microsoft's search
| engine.
| [...]
| Microsoft is essentially being DDoSed by thousands of people hundreds
| of times per minute, but they are mistaking this rise in traffic for
| people actually using Live Search."


EU cracks down on fake blogger astroturfing

,----[ Quote ]
| But back to the web, and with sneaky marketing campaigns likely to be more
| effective than upfront marketing campaigns, what is stopping companies from
| simply risking it and continuing existing practices?  

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)


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