Samsung Fined Because You Can’t Hire Writers To Say Mean Things Online About Competitors

Samsung Fined Because You Can’t Hire Writers To Say Mean Things Online About Competitors

Remember when Taiwan started investigating Samsung after a slew of mean comments about HTC started appearing online? Authorities there have decided that yes, Samsung was indeed paying writers to tear its competitor down while also writing glowing things to build Samsung’s phones up in the eyes of online commenters. [More]

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New York A.G. Investigation Uncovers 19 Companies That Faked Positive Yelp Reviews

New York’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman offered up a doozy of an accomplishment yesterday, revealing that 19 companies had agreed to pay fines for writing fake online reviews for their businesses, and will be shelling out more than $350,000 in penalties. And of course, since the practice of churning out false reviews is called “astroturfing,” the year-long investigation run by Schneiderman was called “Operation Clean Turf.” [More]

Company Retaliates For Bad Game Review With… Bad Reviews Of Reviewer's Novel

Company Retaliates For Bad Game Review With… Bad Reviews Of Reviewer's Novel

Writer Mike Murdock published a fantasy novel in 2008 that had a sudden uptick in reviews on Amazon.com a few weeks ago. Why the sudden popularity? Was it reviewed somewhere prominent? Made part of Oprah’s Book Club? Tweeted by Roger Ebert? Not exactly. Murdock also reviews video games, and recently published a very unfavorable review of the new Sega/High Voltage Software Wii game Conduit 2 on Joystiq. A High Voltage employee then sent a link to the book’s Amazon page to co-workers, urging them to read Murdock’s book and “return the favor.” Well, if a one-star review calling the book “below fan-fiction garbage” is a favor.
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PepsiCo Buys Its Way Onto Science Blog Network As A Food Nutrition Expert

PepsiCo Buys Its Way Onto Science Blog Network As A Food Nutrition Expert

Update #2: On Thursday morning, July 8th, ScienceBlogs contributor PZ Myers posted that the founder and CEO of Seed Media (which owns the blog network) has announced that the PepsiCo sponsored blog has been removed–although as of this update (10:44 am EST July 8th) it’s still online. [More]

Chicagoist Catches Walmart Astroturfing As Populist Local Group

Chicagoist Catches Walmart Astroturfing As Populist Local Group

Kevin Robinson at the blog Chicagoist was curious about a commenter who sounded suspiciously on-message on some recent Walmart posts. Walmart wants to come into Chicago, and Walmart’s opponents are fighting the retailer at the community level to prevent that. In return, a pro-Walmart community group has formed called “Our Community, Your Choice” that argues, “Everyone else but Chatham and the South Side are making the decisions – It’s OUR CHOICE, NOT THEIRS.” [More]

Get Virtual Game Cash For Health Reform Astroturfing

Get Virtual Game Cash For Health Reform Astroturfing

Don’t want to fork over actual cash or start a shady “free” trial in order to get sweet, sweet virtual currency for your favorite game on Facebook or MySpace? Well, you could always take a health care survey that pays you to tell your representatives in Congress how opposed you are to health care reform. Mmm, smell that astroturf! [More]

Is AT&T Behind Grassroots Groups That Are Opposed To Net Neutrality?

Is AT&T Behind Grassroots Groups That Are Opposed To Net Neutrality?

In the net neutrality debate, there are a surprising number of grassroots organizations (well, surprising to me at any rate) that have filed statements against the FCC’s recent draft of rules. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica just published an interesting article where he looks at some of these groups and tries to figure out whether AT&T is secretly influencing them, or whether they really do think net neutrality will hurt those they represent–frequently minority groups–in the long run.

Why Even Bad Online Reviews Can Increase Sales

Why Even Bad Online Reviews Can Increase Sales

We’re generally quite critical of companies that try to squelch negative online reviews, astroturf them, or just bribe customers for positive ones. Not only is this behavior bad for consumers, but the experience of one company shows that it’s bad for businesses, too.

How To Avoid A Bad Hotel …Review

How To Avoid A Bad Hotel …Review

Finding a bad place to stay can ruin a trip, or even your entire impression of a city. Lacking personal recommendations, you may turn to online reviews to help you find a place to stay. But how can you tell shill reviews from real ones? Other than an air of general fakeness, AOL Travel tells you what to look for in hotel reviews specifically.

How To Identify Astroturfers And Front Groups

How To Identify Astroturfers And Front Groups

Everyone likes to hate on spammers, but they’re basically the houseflies of the Internet. Far more insidious and damaging are astroturfers and front groups—those corporate-funded, agenda-pushing people who don’t disclose who they’re really working for while they participate in online culture and the media. The Center for Media and Democracy has put together a list of tips to help you identify them from real grassroots movements, while Free Press has created a widget that reveals front groups for five large companies you frequently see on Consumerist.

Plastic Surgery Company Agrees To Pay $300,000 For Fake Customer Reviews

Plastic Surgery Company Agrees To Pay $300,000 For Fake Customer Reviews

Over a year ago, we wrote about Lifestyle Lift and its attempts to astroturf a customer review website (while simultaneously suing that website for trademark infringement, naturally). But then they caught the attention of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, and now they’ve agreed to pay $300,000 and will stop publishing fake reviews online.

Academic Publisher Pays Professors For Shill Amazon Reviews

Academic Publisher Pays Professors For Shill Amazon Reviews

This story is a little old, but was just brought to our attention this weekend. Elsevier, which is sort of the Death Star of academic publishing, was caught offering $25 Amazon gift cards to professors who gave the book five-star reviews on Amazon.

UPDATE: Amazon Contacts Reader About Pay-to-Play Reviews, Promises Changes

UPDATE: Amazon Contacts Reader About Pay-to-Play Reviews, Promises Changes

Previously: Amazon Deletes Reviews That Mention Pay For Play Review Schemes

Ticketmaster's Facebook Page Is Full Of Fake Friends

Ticketmaster's Facebook Page Is Full Of Fake Friends

With over 150,000 fans, Ticketmaster’s Facebook page is one of the most popular. Too bad most of its friends’ profiles are fake.

http://consumerist.com/2008/03/10/an-astroturfing-group-started-by/

An astroturfing group started by chemical supergiant Monsanto is trying to stop the spread of milk that’s free of bovine synthetic growth hormone. They say they’re trying to defend farmer’s rights but they can’t fool us, we know they really just want to make the future safe for large breasts. [NYT]

Plastic Surgery Company Sues Consumer Site For Negative Customer Reviews

Plastic Surgery Company Sues Consumer Site For Negative Customer Reviews

Lifestyle Lift claims it’s a “minor one-hour procedure with major results,” but a lot of customers who have paid for the procedure have been left unhappy, and they’ve consequently posted reviews about it on a plastic surgery review blog called RealSelf. Lifestyle Lift has sued RealSelf, claiming trademark infringement, and now RealSelf has countersued, claiming Lifestyle Lift padded RealSelf’s site with shill reviews.

Video Of Comcast's Opening Remarks During Net Neutrality Hearing With Seats Stuffed By Company Employees

Here’s a video of Comcast VP David Cohen’s opening remarks during the FCC hearing on Monday, the one where Comcast bused in employees. These employees all wore yellow highlighters to identify themselves to company organizers.

Comcast Stacks FCC Hearing Seats With Sleepy Shills

Comcast Stacks FCC Hearing Seats With Sleepy Shills

Comcast admitted to paying its employees to sit in at a F.C.C. hearing on net neutrality at the Harvard Law School today, depriving angry protesters from their right to sit in those folding chairs. Despite the venue being filled to over capacity, keeping some people from entering, not everyone inside seemed appreciative of their privilege. One Comcast employee admitted on tape, “I’m just getting paid to hold someone’s seat, I don’t even know what’s going on.” According to SaveTheInternet.com, the Comcast employees, “arrived en masse some 90 minutes before the hearing began and occupied almost every available seat, upon which many promptly fell asleep.” The stacked audience’s behavior was limited to wearing a yellow highlighter, sleeping during the proceedings, and loudly applauding when Comcast VP David Cohen got on the mic.