Talking more Murdoch and Twitter on ABC Local Radio

I thought we were done with Rupert Murdoch’s venture into the Twitterverse, but apparently not so. I was invited back onto ABC Local Radio earlier this evening — for a much wider conversation about Twitter.

As it happens, it’s worth updating this story. Yes, Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter and we’ve been analysing every single tweet as if it’s being delivered on a stone tablet. But while that was happening, Twitter decided to verify not only Murdoch’s Twitter account but the one belonging to his wife Wendi Deng.

Except they verified the wrong one. @Wendi_Deng was a spoof account set up by a chap in London. Business Insider ran a transcript of the fake Deng coming clean, and questions were asked about Twitter’s still-secret verification process.

It should’ve been @wendideng, without the underscore, although as I write this the real account has been taken offline.

Mathew Ingram’s piece at GigaOM summed it up nicely: Why Twitter’s “verified account” failure matters. It’s about trust.

Anyway the ABC Radio conversation wandered well into other matters and hardly touched upon Rupert and Wendi. The pace of news. The appropriateness of Twitter marketing. Potential revenue streams for Twitter. And so on. And so forth.

The Sundays presenter was Jennifer Fleming, who’s filling in for James O’Loghlin over summer. The producer was Siobhan Moylan.

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The audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Apparently Sundays is usually podcast, but I’m going to post my interview here anyway.

Talking Castro death hoax spam on ABC 774 Melbourne

Apparently the old “Fidel Castro is dead” hoax spam is doing the rounds again. I daresay the bad guys are targetting people during the holiday season when they’re less vigilant and don’t have as much work email to distract them from the spam.

I spoke about this with Matt Parkinson on ABC 774 Melbourne this morning. It’s the usual message. This stuff is common. Scammers act quickly. The aim is to infect your computer and steal your money. I continue to be surprised that most radio presenters seem completely oblivious to what goes on online.

There’s also the now-common ABC glitch of hedging the way they introduce my name. I’ll have to put a stop to that.

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The audio is ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but it usually isn’t posted on their website and I don’t get paid for these spots, so here it is.

McDonald’s pranked with second fake memo

Reddit listing of second fake McDonald's memo

The supposed leaked memo from McDonald’s that I wrote about on Saturday is itself a fake.

The memo, which like the original fake by serial prankster David Thorne was posted on Reddit, purported to be an email from McDonald’s Australia’s Corporate Communications Manager Bronwyn Stubbs outlining their response.

Someone also attempted to post the text of the memo as a comment to my original post.

However Stubbs emailed me yesterday to say it’s a forgery.

The Purported McDonald’s Memo that you include as part of the article is based on a piece of internal communication that I sent out to my colleagues, however, it has been doctored and changed in various places. Most particularly the final paragraph regarding David Thorne has been completely made up.

That made-up paragraph read:

According to recent news articles and other information we have been provided, the fabricated letter was created by an Adelaide man named David Thorne. At no time should any member of McDonald’s mention the name David Thorne to any media representative. We have spoken to police and are in the process of filing charges against Thorne. We are also speaking with legal regarding a possible law suit. At no time should any member of McDonald’s contact Mr Thorne or engage in any correspondence with him. Should Mr Thorne contact you in any way please let me know immediately or forward any emails.

This certainly kills our speculation as to why someone at McDonald’s would have leaked this memo — they didn’t.

The question now becomes who posted this fake memo, and why? If we’re talking opportunity and motive, well, anyone on the entire Internet has opportunity. Motive? How about a certain prankster seeking attention for his book?

Bugger. I just linked to it myself.

Another question is how businesses can respond to fakery like this, particularly when it’s a brand which people already love to hate.

Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?

[Update 20 October 2009: It turns out this new purported McDonald’s memo is itself a fake. The comment spam attempt was not from McDonald’s.]

Fake McDonald's memo: click to embiggen

Well-known burger-tossers McDonald’s would be pissed off about that fake email tarnishing their reputation, and understandably so. But are they now responding with unethical tactics?

I don’t know. But here’s my little bit of evidence, and maybe The Power of Crowdsourcing [read: “expecting everyone else to do your work for you”] can fill in the gaps.

  1. A document purporting to be a leaked internal memo outlining McDonald’s response policy, and claiming they’re taking legal action against prankster David Thorne, was posted on Reddit — which happens to be where Thorne promoted the original fake memo. The account used to post this new memo, the oh-so-revealing 9911882882288, was created at that time and this is their only post. I’ve included the full text of the purported memo below.
  2. This morning someone tried to post a comment here which was merely a copy and paste of that same memo. They used a clearly false email address, which is presumably what caused their comment to be tagged as potential spam, and an Apple Mac running Safari sitting on an IP address on the Hutchison 3 mobile network.

This strikes me as rather curious.

Since McDonald’s is the big fast food chain that haters of big fast food chains love to hate, I don’t see that many anonymous bystanders rushing to its defence. Something in my waters says this is more likely to be someone acting on McDonald’s behalf — but that’s just a gut feeling.

And since McDonald’s is a big company, presumably they have a big respectable PR firm too.

So why, therefore, the anonymity?

The Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Code of Ethics talks about “dealing honestly”, which in my books means identifying yourself — although I’ll admit I’m hazy on how the PRIA itself would interpret that.

Has anyone else had someone attempt to post this memo as a comment? Is anyone seeing McDonald’s posting official comments in their own name?

And what do you make of the fact that prankster David Thorne works for a design agency which lists McDonald’s as a client?

Continue reading “Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?”

Internet pranks: a random collection

Fake McDonald's memo: click to embiggen

Following yesterday’s news that a memo claiming McDonald’s deliberately rips off customers was a fake (pictured), I spoke about Internet pranks on ABC Radio 891 Adelaide this morning. I figured you might as well see my notes.

Oh, and the audio is below.

The fake memo was the work of Adelaide-based satirist and prankster David Thorne who, amongst other things, runs the website 27bslash6 as troll-bait and is flogging t-shirts and a book of his pranks called The Internet is a Playground.

Personally, I reckon pranks that just waste people’s time or otherwise annoy them without making any more significant point about society are pretty cheap.

Thorne’s attempt to pay a bill with a drawing of a spider is perhaps amusing, and it’s good that the victim saw the joke. But I put it at the same level as The Chaser bringing a horse into shops. Whereas The Chaser‘s breach of security at APEC, which you can see on video, made an important point about security theatre and social engineering attacks.

Anyway, this is what I discovered while poking around…

Continue reading “Internet pranks: a random collection”