Fake IDs/Flogs

Fake IDs by individuals

These infect the threads of any on-liner but are most virulent on environment web sites.

Friends of the Earth’s high profile Campaigns Co-ordinator, Cam Walker, spotted an outbreak of vitriolic anti-wind comments on FOE’s YES! to renewables website. All
different IDs but the same toxic rhetoric. A check on the email address showed them to be from the same person – possibly the same person masquerading as “Cam Walker” who was responsible for the anti-wind comments on Victorian Regional newspaper websites.

One way to check whether multiple entities are the same person is to check their IP address. This is a useful site. Once you know how to look for headers depending on which application you use (Outlook, Hotmail, etc.), look for “Received: from”. The IP follows in square brackets [ ]. Then go on to IP Look Up and type in the IP number.

Here’s how a certain senior executive of the paper giant, Solaris, got himself fired:

Greenpeace ran a successful campaign on how rainforests in Indonesia’s tiger habitat was being destroyed for the production of toilet paper. Consumers boycotted IGA who, in turn, cancelled its order. The supplier, Solaris, retaliated. The award-winning PR website, Mumbrella, ran the Greenpeace story but became suspicious when a torrent of abuse from a large number of people hostile to Greenpeace suddenly flooded the website. Mumbrella checked the IP addresses and traced them back to an office at Solaris. The company apologized for the abusive, deceptive behaviour and the execu- tive was sacked.

Persona Management Software

Companies now use highly sophisticated “persona management software”, to create multiple identities, which, in turn, creates the impression of support (for a corpora- tion) or criticism (of a competitor). The most disturbing case is that of the US Air Force which tendered last year for companies to supply it with such software to sabotage democratic debate and manipulate the outcome.

Avatars

This is a term to describe the name or handle of an internet user. It is usually a small, square-shaped, pixelled symbol to identify the writer, either designed by the user or selected from a preset list. Avatars are often used as a sham or virtual ID to create the impression of multiple identities.

Flogs

A “flog” is a fake blog tricked up to look like an independent on-liner but, in fact, created by a company or organisation to push its product or political viewpoint.