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.
[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.]
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.
- 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.
- 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?”
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”
Stilgherrian’s links for 04 November 2008 through 09 November 2008, gathered via Twitter and spat onto the page with love and some lemon juice and garlic:
- McDonald’s partners with earthwave to provide Australians with “Family Friendly” internet services | LinuxWorld: A company called earthwave has scored the deal to provide Australia’s McDonald’s stores with “clean” Internet links. That’s more than 720 locations.
- How to nap | Boston.com: A nice overview of how to take effective nap breaks. I’d have congratulated Boston.com on using a good wide-screen format too, but discovered they’ve done it with images rather than live text on the page. Still, it’s good material.
- What’s your profit : pain ratio? | Bad Language: Very apropos for me this week: an article pointing out that some clients simple aren’t worth the trouble.
- Best advice I’ve heard all week | Wired Blogs: A reminder that humans are really very bad at assessing risk.
- Tanner eyes web 2.0 tools | Australian IT: Australia’s federal government says it'll trial online public consultation through blogs and other social media tools. Good luck, guys, because the first thing you’ll have to learn is how to have an authentic conversation with people, rather than just parroting the party line.
- Bush: “Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over” | The Onion: Written when George W Bush was inaugurated in 2001, this is a scarily prescient piece of satire. Well worth a read today.
- Barack Obama’s acceptance: the transcript | Crikey: The full text of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. Very powerful writing.
- Not Quite Art | ABC TV: The official ABC website for Marcus Westbury’s series Not Quite Art including full downloadable files of all episodes of series 1 and 2 (provided you’re in Australia).
- The next President of the United States | The Big Picture: Boston.com provides yet another glorious photo essay: this time it’s images of the president-elect of the US, some bloke called Barry.
- Australian Internet Censorship | halans.com: Another powerful analogy to explain why centralised Internet censorship is wrong.
- 6 Nov 2008 – Liberation Day | Microsoft Australia: The Australian launch event for Microsoft’s Azure services platform. I blogged this live previously, and will soon write a more reflective post about it. This page now includes the video of Steve Ballmer’s speech.
- Blog censorship silences free speech around the world | Worldfocus: Thirteen/WNET, the respected PBS station in Boston, blogs about Internet censorship censorship and surveillance around the world, including a link to little old me.
- What Ray Ozzie didn’t tell you about Microsoft Azure | The Register: A nice discussion of the problems Microsoft will face selling its new platform Azure when compared with Amazon’s EC2 and Google’s App Engine.
- 750,000 lost jobs? The dodgy digits behind the war on piracy | ars technica: A nice discussion of where the numbers for “what piracy costs us” come from. This is American rather than Australian, but the points are still valid.
- DVD pirating costing industry $1.7b: Debus | ABC News: Australia’s Home Affairs minister Bob Debus parrots the DVD industry’s claim that illegal copying (which they call “piracy”) costs $1.7B. The bogeyman of “child pornography” is raised to make it sound even scarier.
- “Mankind Is No Island” | One Plus One Equals Three: The winning film in the Tropfest New York short film competition, shot using a mobile phone and found typography in Sydney and NY.