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UK Targets Twitter and Blog Endorsements

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the who-do-you-work-for dept.

Advertising 77

krou writes "The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is cracking down on 'Twitter users and bloggers using their online presence to endorse products and companies without clearly stating their relationship with the brand.' They described such endorsements, including 'comments about services and products on blogs and microblogs such as Twitter,' as 'deceptive' under fair trading rules. While the US Federal Trade Commission already requires such endorsements to be labelled with 'ad' or 'spon,' the UK doesn't have any such requirement. In relation to this, the OFT has launched an investigation into Handpicked Media, because the OFT is 'insisting that it must clearly state when promotional comments have been paid for.'"

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Good luck (2, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34819990)

Good luck enforcing that, I wish you the best.

Re:Good luck (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820082)

" For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this."-Albert

Re:Good luck (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820238)

" For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this."-Albert

Yeah and they call it the War on Drugs or they call it the War on Piracy.

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820374)

There is no war on piracy they just want to blind them with green lasers.

Re:Good luck (0)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820486)

Why is this comment modded down? It's insightful, as far as I'm concerned.

However, I personally feel that "adver-creep" is becoming the bane of civilization, and I'd like to see it curbed. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Re:Good luck (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821040)

Who says it can't be enforced?

It cannot be perfectly enforced, but then no other law can either. The obvious way to catch people doing this is to just hope that they're stupid, but even if not, all it takes is one irritated ex-employee to say "I spent the last six months pretending to be a satisified customer. Here are my fake account details, here are details of what I was paid for it."

As long as there's a risk of being caught, you'll prevent a lot of it from happening.

Re:Good luck (3, Insightful)

Builder (103701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821740)

The problem is with all of the laws that we have that there is _no_ intention of enforcing. Want a really good chance at a valid copyright case? Just arrest anyone walking around with a portable media player. We have no right to rip music from CDs that we own to digital formats, so the chances are that most people on the streets today are law breakers. But we have this law anyway.

Bad laws only serve to bring all law into disrepute.

Re:Good luck (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822000)

True. And it gives us a means to enforce things when we want to enforce them. I despise astroturfing and it's more sinister political cousins. Giving people the means to bring charges against such people, helps us fight it. It also shuts up the "it's not illegal so I've every right to do it" brigade. Not that there are many people sympathetic to astroturfers, but still.

Re:Good luck (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822062)

Actually astroturfing is illegal in the US now. This and the law against louder TV ads are some laws the rest of the world should adopt ASAP. If the US must push laws on other countries, too bad it couldn't be these instead of their draconian IP laws...

Re:Good luck (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821562)

Thank god they're doing this, because I'm just too damn stupid to recognize obvious product placement and false endorsement when I see it. At least I know this email I got from a Nigerian ambassador is real!

Re:Good luck (1)

Zoidbot (1194453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821770)

They can't enforce it. It's so widespread. Microsoft's PR Agency in the UK have paid me thousands of pounds so far to tweet good things about Kinect. Of course i'm tweeting from a crib sheet, as I don't own a Xbox, nor would I after knowing what Microsoft get upto....

I you belive some random dude (2)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34819996)

on the internet that says "buy this" you should be smarter. If some random dude on the street said "buy this" would you?

Re:I you belive some random dude (3, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820016)

depends - what's he selling?

Re:I you belive some random dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34822304)

I've RTFA, he's selling spon. Run!

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

spamking (967666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822646)

A massage and a happy ending . . .

Re:I you belive some random dude (2)

lewko (195646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820040)

L. T. Smash: (Leans out of window) Hey, you! Join the Navy!
Carl: Uh, yeah, all right.
Lenny: I'm in.

Re:I you belive some random dude (3, Insightful)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820066)

Pretty much every commercial is a random dude saying more or less 'buy this' and millions are likely to. All because some random dude told them 'buy this.

Re:I you belive some random dude (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820204)

Pretty much every commercial is a random dude saying more or less 'buy this' and millions are likely to. All because some random dude told them 'buy this.

Recommendations mean much more when they come from people who actually bought the product. Amazon and eBay have that property, because the recommendation system and the payment system are connected. Yelp, Citysearch, and their imitators do not. If recommendations are made to work, it will be by someone in the payment chain.

Re:I you belive some random dude (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821070)

So you're saying the company has to buy one of their own products first before astroturfing on the recommendations?

Yep, that will definitely stop them.

Re:I you belive some random dude (2)

Tim C (15259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821200)

Amazon and eBay have that property, because the recommendation system and the payment system are connected.

I can't vouch for eBay, but on Amazon you most certainly do not have to have bought the product from them (or at all) in order to be able to submit a review.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822318)

I think that's one of the big failings of the system. Comments and reviews aren't exactly perfect statistical analysis, but some of the sampling bias could be reduced. Right now if someone of a fairly extreme viewpoint finds a book they've not even read they can go ahead and post a comment and review. This may balance out, but it can cause serious skewing if the author is well-known and attracts a great deal of controversy. At least requiring people to have bought the product from Amazon before commenting would make it more difficult for x idealogue to send their minions over to Amazon to voice their opinions.

At a minimum they could require posters to have bought x amount of related items before being able to comment, and then it could perhaps be flagged as a comment not backed-up by ownership of the book in question.

Astroturfing should definitely be dealt with. I know Nivea among others have put up suspiciously "fan sites" for products, where it takes a bit of clicking or searching to realise that they're a front for an advertising agency. Maybe a clear label at the top of the page in question if it's not being hosted at what would be considered to be the primary domain of the company in question?

Just yesterday I was dealing with a blog in which the author posted a rather large amount of praise for a bullshit radiation shield for phones, and oddly enough the owner of the company replied in a comment within a day or so to recommend that people consider the products of that fine company - all without mentioning his position.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34822540)

But people who have bought it are shown as "Verified purchaser" or something. So their reviews are more likely to be accurate, although you should still salt them.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820304)

Your example is totally different, because that 'random dude' on TV is:

a) very attractive
b) has huge tits

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820334)

Not every commercial is a TV commercial. Radio, mail fliers and internet ads tend to be text based. While people prefer to use attractive individuals to sell their products, it's not the only way.

Re:I you belive some random dude (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820426)

Sure it's not the only way, but it sure is a popular way.

And mail flyers and internet ads may have text, but lots of them are also tit-based.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820932)

Life is much better without ads, i stopped watching broadcast TV because of the ads, and i no longer listen to broadcast radio, all the media (with the exception of the Internet) i consume is ad free, the only thing i still see are product placements in movies and serials, but those at least aren't as obtrusive as those ad breaks every 5 seconds.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821558)

This year I set my alarm to wake me up with the BBC World Service. I'm British and live in the UK, but the World Service isn't actually transmitted by radio here. I like it so far though, there's almost entirely international news and not much sport news, followed by some kind of radio documentary from somewhere. Time of day might significantly affect what programmes you hear, I'm not sure as I only listen between 8-9 GMT.

Presumably other people like it, as it was the default internet stream in two of the Android alarm apps I tried. I used to wake up to music, but I find people talking is better.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821934)

Radio 4's Today is the thing. Listen to some poor MP/chief exec getting mullered by Humphreys at 8.10am. I almost feel sorry for them at times.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822146)

You're saying that ads placed in movies and serials, that interfere with the content of what you're watching, aren't as obtrusive as ad breaks?

I absolutely hate it, unless it's very subtle to the point that you hardly notice it, it feels like the most violent 4th wall break ever.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34826548)

Got an example of one? Most are pretty subtle, like the brand of a car, a watch, a computer, i can't recall any obtrusive ones, but then again i don't consume that much movies & serials

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34827482)

I believe you don't watch much, because the subtle ones are in the minority. Watch any episode of Smallville, certain episodes of CSI (loaded with advertising for MS products) or the last couple of James Bond movies and it will hit you in the face like a rusty advertising shovel. It's so jarring sometimes, it gives you the same kind of "knocked out of the world" feeling you get when someone interrupts you in the middle of writing complex code.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34827546)

Haven't watched those indeed :)

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820542)

Maybe I'm unusual, but I find huge tits on a dude a disincentive to buy the product. Huge tits on a chick OTOH...

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820924)

Well it's obvious why, isn't it? Would you be able to sit through all those ads if the people in them were hit repeatedly and brutally with the ugly stick?
Attractive people catch the attention of the public long enough to be able to inflict you with the ads, but the ads don't require the attractive people in themselves to work, that's why they keep hitting you with the same ads over & over & over again, tell someone often enough that he needs that product and he'll buy it.

Re:I you belive some random dude (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820308)

The difference with a commercial is that you know who paid the random dude to tell you to do so.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820492)

That's the most true thing I have seen on /.

Re:I you belive some random dude (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820968)

Whether it's OK is nothing to do with whether it's a random person or not.

It's whether there is any deception involved.

If they're falsely pretending to be a satisfied customer that has no ties with the seller, then that's deception.

There's no need to resort to fancy reasons/analogies to figure out why it's wrong, or to try to justify it. Same goes with judging other money-making schemes people think of- is there deceit involved? The intentions also matter.

Nothing wrong with making money.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34838602)

The problem is advertisements disguised as something else. It's why you sometimes see what appears at a glance to be a multipage article with "advertising feature" across the top in magazines, for example.

Re:I you belive some random dude (1)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820966)

If some random dude on the street said "buy this" would you?

It's not an order, but a statement of "I bought this and it was good", and often that is the deciding factor -- when the official specs are too confusing to make an objective assessment (eg, comparing computer parts from different manufacturers), and you don't know anyone with the expertise to have a valid trusted opinion, what is left but to go to the internet and take the average of the untrusted opinions?

Ethics (2, Insightful)

lewko (195646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820034)

It's a shame, if not altogether ironic that the government feels the need to legislate ethics.

I also wonder whether users would be obliged to indicate if they were a competitor of a company, before slagging it off online.

Re:Ethics (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820190)

I don't know if I would go so far as to call it a matter of "ethics." Quite frankly, the government should not be involved at all- what so ever but instead let the free market move as it does, and let the consumer decide if they really think a product is good because @Littlepuppy7 tweeted it. If she happened to have been paid $5000 to endorse a butt plug, lets hope its a good one otherwise it is her reputation on the line. It's like when a professional athlete wear's someone's logo. We don't require them to tell the world they are being paid to wear it... We just know they are the guys cutting him a check. I'll stop the rambling now. But less government invading the lives of the private sector the better.

Re:Ethics (4, Interesting)

bit01 (644603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820240)

I don't know if I would go so far as to call it a matter of "ethics."

Fraudulently pretending to be an objective third party for financial gain. That's ethics alright and the government should come down on them like a ton of bricks. Such people should be in jail if they make a habit of it.

Think it doesn't matter? If it didn't agents would be happy to announce their affiliation. For some strange reason they don't. Why would that be I wonder?

Apart from anything else company legal structures require accountability because they act as proxies for real people and when company agents can be anonymous there is no accountability.

But less government invading the lives of the private sector the better.

In general true but not when there is this amount of fraud going on.

---

How many million man hours has the advertising industry cost today?

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821224)

Fraudulently pretending to be an objective third party for financial gain. That's ethics alright and the government should come down on them like a ton of bricks

There's no such thing as an objective third party, consumers should realize that. Whether its a blatant astroturfing effort or not, the only thing a product review can give is an opinion.

Re:Ethics (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822194)

Replace "objective" with "neutral" or "not a paid shill."

Re:Ethics (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820926)

Quite frankly, the government should not be involved at all- what so ever but instead let the free market move as it does, and let the consumer decide if they really think a product is good because @Littlepuppy7 tweeted it.

Does it matter in the slightest to you that history has proven that that does not work?

In fact the legislation is being passed because it is proving NOW not to work.

The free market relies on informed actors. In many cases, corporations can simply pay to swamp the opinions of people with outright lies (false endorsements are outright lies).

Allowing corporations to lie freely is pretty much antiethical to the free market.

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821052)

Allowing corporations to lie freely is pretty much antiethical to the free market.

Except that the govt targets not the corporations, but the bloggers. If the bloggers are lying about the quality of the products:
a. even on medium term, their blog will be considered as fraud by the visitors (and the actual friends of the blogger will spit her/him in the face)
b. I wonder if the govt is not after a quick cash-grab - offenders pay a fine. I don't see how the hell the govt can control whether or not something posted on a blog is true or "paid advert" and do it just "for ethical reasons" - not in a period of budgetary austerity.

Re:Ethics (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822974)

The problem is that most people aren't taking reputation into account, because it's hard to track. If you read a particular blog and it recommends things, then it's easy to buy one and see if the recommendation was good. This isn't how it usually works though - people google for reviews and read them without any context. If you search twitter for a product and find 100 people saying that it's great, you have no idea whether they're paid shills or real users, but a lot of users don't realise this.

The real solution is some for of distributed reputation tracking system, so you can check the reputation of a source before deciding to trust it (and even have this built into the browser so that it can automatically flag things signed by people with a good reputation). Unfortunately, designing such a system is incredibly hard.

Re:Ethics (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821538)

I disagree. I am very mush in favour of the free market, but a free market needs full disclosure. I think the government definitely has a place in the market in defining and administering standards - which includes disclosure of interest. By all means let buyers make their own purchasing decisions, including to by, if they wish, substandard goods or goods endorsed by celebrities or whatever. But a market requires proper knowledge, and the consumer is at a huge disadvantage compared to large corporations unless the government steps in and forces disclosure on the corporations.

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34822160)

>But less government invading the lives of the private sector the better.

Yeah. For instance, why can't we have private sector entrepreneurs coming over to your house to confiscate your keyboard or whatever else it is you use to type your stupid shit on the internet?

Why must the government come and stick their "rules" in our faces? The one who has the most money and who can afford to buy the most muscle should clearly be calling the shots!

Re:Ethics (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820694)

It's a shame, if not altogether ironic that the government feels the need to legislate ethics.

Is that not basically what all legislation is?

Re:Ethics (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820940)

I also wonder whether users would be obliged to indicate if they were a competitor of a company, before slagging it off online.

I may be mistaken, but I believe that that is illegal in the UK (or, rather, under European law it is illegal). Of course, proving it is another matter. On the other hand, there's also UK's libel laws, so if someone did post such a review, they could face libel prosecution. It's also illegal to post reviews of your own business/product.

something i miss (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820074)

I miss the more innocent age of the internet before there was astroturfing.

These days, I more or less assume any favorable opinion about a commercial product is astroturfed, unless I have compelling evidence to the contrary.

Re:something i miss (0)

lewko (195646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820350)

I miss the more innocent age of the internet before there was goatse.

Re:something i miss (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822300)

The Internet would be better if all the astroturfing was replaced with goatse.

Re:something i miss (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820368)

How about compelling evidence that it *is* being astroturfed? Businesses are getting so brazen at this that they just come right out and say it in written form that they'll give something in return for positive reviews...

newsletter asking to shill [flic.kr]

Yelp review [yelp.com] calling out owner with a *response* from the owner

Re:something i miss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820420)

I miss the age when morons like you didn't have a platform to freely spout your bullshit. I guess we're both fucked, but at least I'm not retarded.

Re:something i miss (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821036)

You want back the old days? I just used ACME's SuperMassiveNostalgiaFactory to make the Internet just the way I remembered it 15 years ago. You should really try it [youtube.com] !
Results in 10 minutes, and I hear they have a 30 days no questions asked guarantee. Really great stuff. All my family uses it!!!1!111!

Re:something i miss (1)

lee1 (219161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824470)

Although flat-out astroturfing is usually obvious to the clued-in, there are more subtle [lee-phillips.org] forms of influence that may be tainting more online commentary than we might suspect. In the case of this blogger, he was not only accepting advertising but had received a free copy of the software that he was praising (~ $300), yet he seemed to honestly think there was no problem. And the software publisher [markbernstein.org] , if his email to me is to be believed, actually doesn't think that he's paying for reviews.

UK do have rules... (1, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820112)

There are rules in the UK and even the advertising standards agency and also trade descriptions legalisation.
And they do deal with internet adverts just as much as any other kind.
If a 'false claim' is made then that a breach of advertising rules.
But if the claims are true, does it matter?

Also if it appears on the companies own site or publication it's not an advertisement. (can't remember what the ASA/Traiding stands calls that), but I think it comes under the OFT.

So if it's an email, or in twitter or anywhere else and the claims are false or missleading or otherwise inapproprate it's handled by the ASA or trading standards.

I've reported a few people who for instance, claim to be able to predict the future.

That was put under the same trade descriptions laws a few years back, though I think that religions somehow managed to have a loop-hole for trade descriptions, false advertising and discrimination. MP's and political parties also have some or total freedom from the law because the UK has something called a parliamentary monarchy. That means that parliament acts as the monarch, royalty and can pretty much do anything they like. (though this is mainly limited to within the buildings of the house of commons, they can do anything they want with the law, including removing civil liberties granted in the past, like the right to arms so that a corrupt government can be overthrown).

This is why they didn't have to obey the smoking ban, they are royalty, chosen by God. (or whatever Royalty is supposed to be, that's the old English tradition) outside all laws except the law of God that they then bestow upon the people.

Re:UK do have rules... (2, Funny)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820154)

I've reported a few people who for instance, claim to be able to predict the future.

Damn, they should have seen that coming!

Re:UK do have rules... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820592)

I've reported a few people who for instance, claim to be able to predict the future.

Be careful, if you claim that in public then they can sue you for libel. Sure you'll win probably but it'll cost you $200k or so. More if you lose or run out of money to defend yourself with.

Re:UK do have rules... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34823358)

I've reported a few people who for instance, claim to be able to predict the future.

Be careful, if you claim that in public then they can sue you for libel. Sure you'll win probably but it'll cost you $200k or so. More if you lose or run out of money to defend yourself with.

Not in the case of 'psychics', even in Britain. These particular type of frauds have actually been recognised as such by the courts already and must declare that they provide their 'services' for entertainment value only and do not insinuate that they can actually tell the future. So the GP was reporting them for actually having broken the law, and it would be hard for them to sue them for saying something that the Courts themselves have already said by proxy.

Re:UK do have rules... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823044)

Also if it appears on the companies own site or publication it's not an advertisement. (can't remember what the ASA/Traiding stands calls that), but I think it comes under the OFT.

Yup, that's been my experience. I complained to the ASA a while ago about misleading claims on the Virgin Media web site. Their response was that claims on a company's own web site are not covered by advertising regulations. Seems weird, since an advert in a physical store's window is covered, but one in their online store is not.

the UK has something called a parliamentary monarchy. That means that parliament acts as the monarch

Nope, it means that the monarch acts as the monarch and parliament is appointed by the monarch and can place certain constraints on the power of the monarch. In practice, the monarch acts as a rubber stamp on parliamentary process.

Re:UK do have rules... (0)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34825388)

the monarch passes rights onto parliament.

Prior to this for instance the UK had a right to bare arms (just as in the USA), it was removed by one monarch back some time, then put back as it's removal was unlawful.

After parliament became a parliament monarchy, they then had the rights to remove and previous laws. (which even a monarch didn't have before that). They became above the law even above the law that the monarchy is governed by.

I think those kind of things have to be done in the queens/kings speech though. So they have both parliamentary (of the common people, yeh right) and royal ascension.

But in the house of commons, there is a special law unto it's own, with it's own rules and regulations (like not being able to say another member has lied), they can probably smoke crack in the chamber though. a bit like diplomatic immunity.

Re:UK do have rules... (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34825410)

It's not an advert it's a description of a trade, so covered by trading standards and statuary rights of sale. (or the OFT but that's a bit different).

Also OFTEL or whoever, but there carper than if Murdock himself run the bloody thing.

Good Grief (0)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820328)

If Anyone says they like anything or uses anything on a facebook or twitter account, you can be pretty sure they aren't doing it for free. And if they insist they don't work for the company, then they definitely do. And if they say something is crap, then they probably work for a competitor, altho that isn't always the case. For instance Bell Canada sucks, but they have no competitors.

Re:Good Grief (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820748)

Bell Canada certainly has competitors. Maybe not in every marketplace, but definitely in some.
But ofcourse you already knew that, seeing as you are working for one of their competitors. Don't try to insist you don't, it only proves it more.

Re:Good Grief (1)

telso (924323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820890)

Saying Bell Canada sucks doesn't mean you work for a competitor; it means you're Canadian. (And you know I'm not shilling for a competitor, because no matter what business of Bell you're talking about (local landline, long distance landline, cell, dialup, DSL, TV), their competitors suck too. I have yet to find a good telecommunications company in Canada; in fact, there are only two companies of any type that operate in Canada that it's always been a pleasure to deal with, and both their head offices are in other countries. (To be fair to Bell, I suppose online TV on demand from CTV (which Bell's parent BCE owns) is not godawful.))

Re:Good Grief (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824306)

I don't think there's anyone who likes their telecommunications company at all, regardless of citizenship. At best, we merely tolerate them because they provide services people need, and the competition isn't that much better either.

Be it TV, internet or phone, everyone really is sick of whomever provides the service. All the services are too expensive, the price always go up, customer service sucks, and they always overbill. And there's little effort to improve since if the rest of the competition is equally terrible, why bother?

Re:Good Grief (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821400)

The "Like" thing is usually true, or they just want to see the hidden picture / enter the competition that requires them to "like" it first. However, the "this sucks" portion is generally not true. If someone says something sucks on such sites, they *normally* think it does.

However, the MUCH bigger question - what idiot listens to their Facebook/Twitter friend's opinion when they are buying something for themselves, without at least asking *WHY* it sucks? People always tell me that X sucks but with no explanation. People still can't explain to me why, all of a sudden, Windows XP sucks. Or OpenOffice sucks. Or Opera sucks. If they provide reasons, those reasons are usually exactly WHY I want to use it (i.e. Opera has a built-in mail client and doesn't execute ActiveX). They normally don't like it, or it's not suited to their way of working, or it has problems they don't like, or (infinitely more likely) they haven't *really* given it a fair chance and it's fashionable to say anything non-standard sucks. That's *their* opinion and doesn't automatically mean that everyone works the same or, even if they do, that they will find it as sucky.

There are friends I have that, if they HATE a movie, I'm almost guaranteed to like it and vice versa. There are friends who piss their money away on gadgets that I think are useless or that don't suit my method of working at all. There is no point in me owning a machine that I can't easily write my own software for, for example - so their iPods and iPhones and iBooks are effectively a "games console" computer in my opinion, whereas my old XP image that's followed me onto four different laptops is much better AND plays all the games I want. They don't see it that way so my "old, sucky" laptop whose efficiency and speed WOULD be destroyed within a few months of *their* use of the same machine through mismanagement is actually perfect for me.

We bought the head of the school I work at an iPad when he retired. He was an old-school computing guy, though, so he sold it on eBay shortly afterwards. But the 600MHz Mini-ITX with triple boot DOS, Linux and Windows XP that I built for him, with built-in Soundblaster compatibility, was a million times more suitable and he took it with him to his house in the South of France. To anyone else, it probably "sucked", but for him it was perfect. I have friends that only buy Sony. I have friends that spend money on Farmville. I have friends that live by their iPhone and yet can't work out how to use 1% of it's functions. I have friends that can't operate my laptop because the touchpad (again, personal preference) is slightly offset to the left and doesn't have a defined scroll area, but it's perfect for me, because Autoplay is completely disable, and because to play a DVD you have to load VLC manually. I have a friend who only buys whatever Which magazine tells him to buy.

"Suckiness" is dependent on the user. Opinions matter but only of those people whose opinions matter to me. The chances of random "Yeah, this is cool" or "This sucks" actually affecting *ANYTHING* I do are incredibly minimal unless it's backed up by reasoning, experience and trust. You have to weight each opinion by those factors and if you do that, any astroturfing will actually end up on the bottom of the pile rather than the top. And even among the people I speak to the most, there are some where I wouldn't *touch* anything they recommended because they are inherently different to me. The person I know who works at Rackspace has been brainwashed, so I instantly discredit their opinion on hosting and network hardware because they try to simulate the datacentre they work in inside everyone's house including their own - it's *not* suitable for the majority of cases and even when it *is* suitable, I happen to think that Rackspace suck and most of what they do internally sucks. If I didn't discredit their opinion, I'd basically be up to my nose in overly expensive Cisco hardware and yet have substandard capabilities compared to what I have now.

If you're getting your opinions from Facebook, Twitter, random strangers or close friends with an obvious bias, you're an idiot. You *aren't* them and thus you'll have different criteria. Some people *can* help you but hell, an astroturfing campaign on Facebook? Nothing would get me hitting the "Block" button faster. An opinion requires backup in the same way that saying "I've proved Fermat's Last Theorem" requires backup. Without the backup, or with absence of the backup in the claims, it's actually MORE likely to be nonsense.

Just use $$$: or £££: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820512)

Why not just use

$$$: teh awesome

Or, of course, for the UK:

£££: teh awesome

Re:Just use $$$: or £££: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34823742)

No, how about tagging #30ag for all paid tweets

PerfHappyMum (4, Interesting)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820714)

For those dopey slashdotters like me who assumed most astroturfing is the PR dept of a major firm coming back from their Friday lunch, follow the link in the summary. Took a random path through handpickedmedia's website and then read the twitter posts of PerfHappyMum. Seems just like every other life coach (what the hell are THEY?);
children asleep two hours early!
soon followed by
Just leaving the preview screening of "tangled", most refreshing cartoon since Shreck, loved it

"She" is in the parenting "channel" of handpicked's website but on Twitter there is no indication it's paid for. Assume that a significant amount of the conversation is with other handpickedmedia's 'channels'? If they can investigate the volume going up in the adverts (what did happen to that Ofcom report? Anyone know?) then this is an organisation of cynicism that has shocked me.

Oh that lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820930)

Ah i see who you are wittering on about now TWATTER that conglomeration of TOSSERS the need to be TERMINATED with hostility
  mind i think 99.99999% of the mods on here must be TWATTER fans there are striking similarites

rotate on a sharp one wont ya'll

Missing tag: (1)

feufeu (1109929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821000)

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense

Null Hypothesis: It's Crap (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823468)

This isn't too hard. Assume that everything is crap and everybody selling something is lying to you.

Let the burden of proof rest upon reputations proving otherwise. There are writers/organizations who work hard to achieve such reputations, so take advantage of their labor. Incrementally learn to trust sources or gain that trust from other people whom you trust who have identified those sources (old friends are good to have).

Teach your children not to believe strangers trying to sell them something, no matter if they're standing on a soap box or speaking from an electronic box in the house. 'Voices of authority' that are self-interested are nearly always wrong.

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