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BP Hired Company To Troll Users Who Left Critical Comments 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-see-why-people-love-oil-companies dept.
An anonymous reader sends this news from Al-Jazeera: "BP has been accused of hiring internet 'trolls' to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil firm hired the international PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run the BP America Facebook page during the oil disaster, which released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf in what is to date the single largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened. ... BP's 'astroturfing' efforts and use of 'trolls' have been reported as pursuing users' personal information, then tracking and posting IP addresses of users, contacting their employers, threatening to contact family members, and using photos of critics' family members to create false Facebook profiles, and even threatening to affect the potential outcome of individual compensation claims against BP."
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BP Hired Company To Troll Users Who Left Critical Comments

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  • Dream job (Score:5, Funny)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:45PM (#45477027) Homepage Journal

    Where do i get a gig like this?

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:46PM (#45477039) Journal
      Call Samsung *ducks*
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        At least samsung pays for that trolling, unlike some competitors :D

        • by noobermin (1950642) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:24PM (#45477775) Journal

          The other competitor which shall not be named has a better method of "public image management." It's simple: with each of their devices they sell, it comes equipped with a state-of-the-art RDF [wikipedia.org] generator that turns the purchasers into fully obedient drones who will take to the internet forums and defend the company themselves! Since these drones are now merely subservient beings to the corporate will, they don't need to be paid; in fact, the effects of RDF ensure that they will throw themselves at the stores the next time the company delivers a new product, even for the most incremental and mundane updates! The shills will pay you!

          • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @10:00PM (#45478343)

            The other competitor which shall not be named has a better method of "public image management." It's simple: with each of their devices they sell, it comes equipped with a state-of-the-art RDF [wikipedia.org] generator that turns the purchasers into fully obedient drones who will take to the internet forums and defend the company themselves! Since these drones are now merely subservient beings to the corporate will, they don't need to be paid; in fact, the effects of RDF ensure that they will throw themselves at the stores the next time the company delivers a new product, even for the most incremental and mundane updates! The shills will pay you!

            This, Samsung, BP, et al. have to pay someone to troll their competitors... Apple gets chumps to do it for free.

            • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

              did somebody say something?

            • This, Samsung, BP, et al. have to pay someone to troll their competitors... Apple gets chumps to do it for free.

              What makes you so sure about this?

              I have yet to meet a real life apple fan (and yes, i know some people who have pretty much all available kit) that behaves anywhere near as stupid as the common internet troll. Sure, anonymity might have something to do about it, but i really doubt there are that many people who actually care about Apple like a religion.

              • by mjwx (966435)

                What makes you so sure about this?

                Having dealt with Apple fans.

                If you haven't met one that's rabid you must be walking around with your eyes shut. I go out of my way to avoid where Apple fanboys coalesce but even I've had the misfortune of many troll-like conversations with them.

                If that's not enough, just spend more time here. They're attracted to /. like moths to a flame (war).

    • Re:Dream job (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:53PM (#45477099)

      Where do i get a gig like this?

      Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Dunno, they never called me,either. Losers, well, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. They knew they couldn't afford me.

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:43PM (#45477895)

      My favorite was Oprah's troll:

      "I just LOVE my new Microsoft Surface!!! I'm bought 12 for Christmas!!!

      "-- posted from my iPad"

      If you're on the top of the trolling heap . . . you can afford to pay assistants to troll for you . . .

    • Re:Dream job (Score:4, Informative)

      by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday November 21, 2013 @01:09AM (#45479011) Homepage

      Seriously why would you want it? Only trolls hire trolls and those trolls will treat their trolls even worse than the way regular people treat trolls. Obviously if you are looking for a gig, simply open up the yellow pages, look under public relation agencies, take your pick and be ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement that threatens everything up to and including crucifixion if you attempt to tell anyone the truth. If you want to how to be the worst of the worst, simply join and become an active member of either of the two dominant political parties in your country (doesn't make any difference about the brand or the country). Of course if you just want to look silly and be mocked become a fanbois of what ever stripe be it Apple products generally, Xboxes, Playstations or your choice of motor vehicles.

    • Where do i get a gig like this?

      It's possible this gig is a double bluff and is actually a rival oil company or environmental group trolling BP by accusing them of trolling others. Note the lack of direct evidence in the article.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:45PM (#45477029)

    They should have hired Dice.com. I hear they have great information on technology and technology jobs. A++++. Would use their site again.

  • So do they apply for the job? I wonder if they have to list references or if being a frequent poster of reddit's /r/atheism or 4chan is enough.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      So do they apply for the job? I wonder if they have to list references or if being a frequent poster of reddit's /r/atheism or 4chan is enough.

      They probably just go in as the user they wish to insult, drop a few assertions in a 4chan-like forum, with scarcely concealed credentials (of the intended) and let nature take its course. Why pay when you can get people to do the work for you for free (as in beer) ?

  • by plopez (54068) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:47PM (#45477045) Journal

    They should have spent it on coming up with more ways of saying "We're sorry".

    • Re:A waste of time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @07:04PM (#45477209) Homepage Journal

      They should have spent it on coming up with more ways of saying "We're sorry".

      While that makes the greater sense, where's the fun in doing the right thing, when you can do amazingly wrong things and then get caught, try to cover your ass and then hire yet-another company to harass your detractors?

      The Internet - Not just for constructive collaboration anymore.

    • by richlv (778496)

      oh, saying sorry is a different topic.
      dear bp, now is a chance to pretend you did not know this was going on and sue that company out of existence

    • by jd2112 (1535857) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:25PM (#45477783)

      They should have spent it on coming up with more ways of saying "We're sorry".

      Being a multi-billion dollar megacorp means never having to say you're sorry.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they were only trolling posters on the Facebook page, how would they figure out their IP addresses? Impossible unless they hacked into Facebook.

    • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @07:24PM (#45477331) Homepage

      If they were only trolling posters on the Facebook page, how would they figure out their IP addresses? Impossible unless they hacked into Facebook.

      The article is crap. It's basically a bunch of unsubstantiated allegations without even a shred of evidence. It's possible BP did the things they claim, but I cannot fathom why they would. Delete comments, sure, but threaten bodily harm? What would be the point?

    • by cffrost (885375)

      If they were only trolling posters on the Facebook page, how would they figure out their IP addresses? Impossible unless they hacked into Facebook.

      That's one way... Another is to simply pay Farcebook for the data.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:50PM (#45477069)

    "Reputation managers" (Aka professional lairs) are everywhere. You'll see a lot of them here on slashdot. Remember all those copy-pasted shill posts apologizing for windows 8? That was a riot. Those key phrases and talking points stick out like a sore thumb.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:51PM (#45477075)

    Or do the oil companies pay extra?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    An anonymous source working for Anonymous claims the group is not worried as the emerging trolls are "newfags [who] can't triforce". Some experts, however, are not as confident on the group's ability to adapt to the increasingly competitive trolling market. Anonymous has yet to comment on the matter.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @06:59PM (#45477169) Homepage Journal

    I just want to say that, though I often attack, bully, and sometimes insult people on this very forum, I'm not a paid shill.

    It's more of a "calling [xkcd.com]".

    (Wait... what? I can also get *paid*?)

  • Wouldn't you be surprised if many companies did not do it? Large companies? Politicians? Governments?

    How many comments on Slashdot are astroturf?

    • Nobody would pay money to astroturf this ghost town.

    • Cory Doctorow's Novel "Homeland" speaks about this. It turns out that there was a FOIA request pending (by Aaron Schwarz) for the "Identity Management Software" that the US Airforce bought.
  • by Sowelu (713889) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @07:32PM (#45477375)

    Burning karma in hopes that a 6 year old, moderately active account will dispel accusations of "shill":

    I'm most certainly no friend of BP's, but the evidence presented in the story really is not that compelling. People on the internet are huge dicks even without being paid to do it, and some people have a lot of time on their hands. Maybe some of them are family of BP workers, or grunt paper shufflers in the company, or just assholes, but none of the evidence seems worthy of this headline.

    Intriguing, worth looking into? Sure. But if your headline is "BP did this" instead of "BP accused of this", you need a hell of a lot better documentation.

    Alarmism helps no one.

  • Pedantic but this is not the definition of a troll at all. Steven King would be trolling in his grave if he'd heard this.

  • Summary: BP accused of hiring
    Headline: BP hired
  • Ogilvy & Mather is well respect advertising firm with hundreds of offices and part of WPP, an even larger firm. No way are they "internet trolls". Running a webpage for BP, sure. Doing quasi-illegal stuff, they could get caught for and likely aren't being much paid for.... I really really doubt it.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I don't see some 10 person advertising agency as having the disposable resources for doing something like this.

      It would have to be a big firm, a big firm buying some freelancers or companies who are "social internet experts". Nobody inside BP would bother with it either, but, and here's the big but, I can see them has having a big budget for pr damage control which just then happens to trickle down to some people who might well see as their job to do this kind of thing(if they didn't, their money for uphold

  • I'm on 3 other forums pretty regularly and it's obvious that people get paid to troll. There was bunch of people trolling the Yahoo Games chats during the elections; including a guy who seemed to be there 24-7, spouting political stuff and even with a trolling political name. There are people who do nothing but get on and dump articles and quotes from partisan websites and radio hosts.

    What sealed it for me was during one of the 2012 conventions, ALL of the trolling stopped and JUST for the days of the con

  • by quax (19371) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:38PM (#45477865)

    The US government should have seized all of their American assets and forced them into bankruptcy.

    No company deserves to survive a screw-up of this magnitude.

  • Just trolling and threatening? It could have been much worse [wikipedia.org].
  • "largest environmental disaster in U.S. history" The Lakeview Gusher spill was larger in terms of tons of oil. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeview_Gusher [wikipedia.org]

    I think the author meant "most expensive environmental disaster".

  • Fox News got caught doing the same thing.
  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @09:47PM (#45478297)

    Seriously, what the fuck will it take to get a high-level executive of one of these companies to see the inside of a jail cell for an extended period of time?

    • Seriously, what the f_ck will it take to get a high-level executive of one of these companies to see the inside of a jail cell for an extended period of time?

      When a few judges and FBI directors seeing the inside of a Jail Cell.

      Personally, I don't think things will change in the normal process given that there is so much interlocking corruption. I figure this will change when a few of these execs see the light and the error of their ways, due to a serious of Unfortunate Coincidences. There's always hope!

  • I seriously doubt if BP or Ogilvy & Mather (18,000 employees) would do something this stupid. While Al Jazeera is as fair and balanced as Fox News, they could have some conflict of interest with BP.
  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @10:43PM (#45478493)
    I have a suggestion...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2013 @01:11AM (#45479017)

    Worst environmental disaster in US history? Not remotely.

    The Dust Bowl takes the prize with no legitimate contenders.

    In the Gulf of Mexico, the massive dead zone from fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi river has caused way more devastation than the BP oil spill.

    Among offshore oil spills, the Exxon Valdez killed orders of magnitude more animal deaths and environmental damage. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Ixtoc I spill was far more damaging (being much closer to shore).

    Among all oil spills, the Lakeview Gusher in 1910 was the largest by far.

    Why can't people ever write about a on-going or recent oil spill without claiming that it is the worst ever?

    • by khallow (566160)

      The Dust Bowl takes the prize with no legitimate contenders.

      Eh, I'd put habitat destruction or perhaps the near extinction of most large North American mammals in modern times. The Dust Bowl would be a consequence at least of the former.

  • Here in slashdot every time Microsoft is bashed or we talk about Windows Phones, either we are modded down or people say that piece of turd that is Windows mobile is better than iPad. So it is not only BP that hires trolls.

We are Microsoft. Unix is irrelevant. Openness is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

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