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The silence of the shills?

We have met a couple here haven't we?  People with a paid/bribed opinion....Is time up for "he who cannot be named"? doubtful but the FTC may have an impact on some of our bigger "free gift" hunters out there.

We have met a couple here haven't we? People with a paid/bribed opinion....Is time up for "he who cannot be named"? doubtful but the FTC may have an impact on some of our bigger "free gift" hunters out there.

No its not the name of a new movie, nor does it signify that the Microsoft faithful has stopped with their ever increasing desperate tactics (IMO).  No its a piece of news which astroturfers may find worrying (that and seeing their cashcow being eaten by FOSS)

The FTC is allegedly planning to crackdown on bloggers/posters who recieve gifts/freebies for promoting products.   Its a practice we have highlighted here before and one in my opinion that completely destroys the faith in “honest held belief” in the writings of many bloggers.

Ever read something praising a proprietary product where it has no resembelance to your experience?  Its these type of posts which, because of the actions of certain proprietary firms means that when talking about proprietary software/products there is always a question of doubt in an honest held belief. (IMO)

The practice though is commonplace here (that being word of mouth marketing) one such company who can create a marketing buzz for you (as mentioned in the CNET article) http://izea.com/ and its worth keeping in mind when you see a person praising a product.  What are their motives for doing so?

You can read the excellent CNET article here http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10269962-38.html

“The rules could be quite strict, even extending to the practice of affiliate links–for example, a music blogger who links to a song on Amazon MP3 or iTunes that earns an affiliate commission in the process.”

So why does it matter?  Well appart from the free speech on the Net not being so free (IMO) it highlights why Twitter and similar social networking sites have been ruined by companies looking to push their products onto you.  I remember many years ago when IRC was the target of numerous spambots and in recent times even the newsgroups have been hit less in favor of Twitter et al.

So what can you do?  I make a point of boycotting any product that tries to push itself onto me, that may be by a company on Twitter pretending to be a normal user or it may be a site that is dressed up as a personal blog when in reality its a PR stage for proprietary products.

Going back to the FTC, I presume the only people who need to be concerned are going to be the US resident shills, however it does make you wonder that if the FTC is going after this practice, it must be pretty commonplace.  I do think though that the world of Bloggers is far too big to effectively police, although the FTC could concentrate on the larger, more popular names and have an impact.  For companies who rely on this practice, they could be quite embarrassed if it is made a requirement that you must disclose.

Next time someone tries to tell you a proprietary solution is great, take a step back and challenge it.  Chances are its not the only option for you and who knows what “gifts” the person saying it has received?

And to end of a lighter note, here is an example of a “dodgy” comment by allegedly an average user on Twitter (by the way, if the writer of this is thinking of removing it from their Twitter, I already have a screendump, which will be shown in due course):

“Looking at some family pics of MJ,  I can see he was a PC user, too bad he didn’t live to see Windows 7”

Answers on a postcard with the name of this legendary MS faithful poster! and I think the coment shows that there are no depths too low for the MS faithful.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

About Tim

Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.


4 thoughts on “The silence of the shills?

  1. Good Lord, that verges on parody. We need a competition to come up with the best Microsoft shill tweet, e.g.

    “I heard Hitler got IBM to do the death camps’ paperwork using an early version of Linux”
    “STUDIES JUST IN: Last three years Macintosh and iPhone keyboards contaminated with herpes virus”
    “Bill Gates on early lists for sainthood for charity work”

    All followed up with bit.ly redirects to Get The Facts.

    Posted by David Gerard | July 5, 2009, 6:58 pm
  2. Hi David.

    I think it does though attack the most dangerous person of all, the blogger who appears “honest”.

    I think we live in a world where people are quite savvy about advertising and know that things like “get the facts” or the latest MS advert are bound to favor MS otherwise they wouldn’t use them.

    Where the danger is (IMO) is when you have a respected blogger who, to all intents and purposes is a “normal user” spouting pro-proprietary FUD. IMO its more likely to be taken seriously.

    We’ve seen examples highlighted here many times. There was even a blogger who decided to announce to the world about the free laptop he received from MS. If the FTC can tackle more of these then it will be a big win for honest held belief on the net. IMO.

    I don’t think “he who cannot be named” will have much to worry about since he doesnt live in the US, never the less, I bet he is seeing his cashcow dry up recently.

    Posted by openbytes | July 5, 2009, 7:16 pm
  3. Googling windows vista stories
    Gets like 15X more hits than
    Windows vista success stories
    The latter has many post-here and sarcastic hits

    Posted by xD | July 9, 2009, 9:32 pm


  1. Pingback: How Microsoft Gags Dissenters and Bribes or Rewards Supporters | Boycott Novell - July 12, 2009

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Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets, both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast.  Supporter of free and open source software.

Committee member of the Seaham Red Star Football Club.


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