The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for the 'Advice' Category

The Unsuitablog: Winding Down and Winding Up

Posted by keith on 4th January 2012

Four years, and it feels like it. It would take a book to tell the story of The Unsuitablog: all the work that has gone into it; the sleepless nights wondering whether a stunt would come off or what the repercussions of an exposure would be; the arm-aching pixel manipulation in creating the hundreds of subvertising images for this and other websites; the underhand phone calls and trick emails; the constant niggle of whether any of this was worth the effort at all. I think it was worth it. Certainly a book is near completion, not quite the story of The Unsuitablog, but something most definitely inspired by it.

Underminers is perhaps the culmination of this four-year project, and I have a certain faith – if that’s allowed – that readers of The Unsuitablog and those that take the time to read Underminers will go on to do great things, far beyond anything this blog has achieved. And, you know what, I’m not going to tell you what this blog has achieved: for a start, I have no way of telling whether anything that seems to have been inspired by it was the direct result of it, nor if anything else that may have just sown the seed in the mind of a reader led to something magnificent. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Also, why the hell should I take credit for something done by someone else? I know what I have done, but that’s all the credit I should take. Anything else is the domain of the person or persons who carried out those magnificent acts: they should take the credit.

And now it is time to wind down The Unsuitablog, at least unless it is needed again. Maybe wind down is wrong: I suspect “wind up” is more appropriate, for with its stasis remains an archive that can be used for as long as this site exists by anyone who wishes to do things that might make a difference. If anything has given me joy from this project, it has been the knowledge that the mere presence of this blog and many of the acts recorded in it, have truly wound up the establishment, the corporate system, and those people that pretend to make things better when they are just perpetuating the horror that continues – the horror that we must prevent. So, wind ‘em up, and take the piss – in the darkest of times, a smile and a burst of sarcasm can undermine even the most immovable of obstacles.

Keith Farnish
January 4, 2012.

Posted in Advice, Unsuitablog News | No Comments »

Occupy Wall Street: The Futility and the Opportunity

Posted by keith on 18th October 2011

Occupy Wall Street Placard - The Guardian

There are a couple of quotations which I would like to share with you. Read them carefully; they will possibly make you angry, or perhaps you will be nodding furiously in agreement with one if not both of them. They are important quotations. This is the first:

One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing…and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others…their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest.

(Ward Churchill, “Pacifism as Pathology”)

This quotation is important because it reflects very strongly on how the Occupy (Wall Street) Movement is functioning. It clearly expresses the nature of non-violent protest and occupation, which in the Westernised, symbolic mindset has been reduced to the smoking ruin of “doing what the authorities permit”. Only in Italy has the Occupy protest become significantly more than a symbolic talking shop and, of course, any semblance of violence, whether that “violence” is aimed at a shop window or an armed police guard, is absolutely, unequivocally condemned by the true representatives of the Occupy Movement.

While the vast majority of those who turned up that day remained peaceful — indeed, hostile to those battling the police — only the most violent reached the march’s planned destination. They seem to have dashed there to pre-empt the rest of the march, engaging the police in about two hours of fighting in front of the basilica. The rest, blocked by the fighting, quickly dissipated, their banners crestfallen; many detoured to the enormous field that marks the remains of the ancient Circus Maximus.

The idea that a “protester” against the capitalist system of financial elitist might could be actively hostile to someone who is battling the very forces who represent the system they are apparently protesting against is mind-boggling, not to mention illogical. But it perfectly bears out Ward Churchill’s observations of the nature of organised protest in the industrial West. Looking at the Occupy Wall Street web site reveals an article entitled “From Tahrir Square to Times Square: Protests Erupt in Over 1,500 Cities Worldwide” which focuses almost entirely on New York and conveniently skips any mention of Rome – yet the headline used the word “erupt”. Clearly any eruption has to be properly sanctioned by those calling the shots. The comments below the article are replete with complaints about the media coverage of the protests, as if coverage is what matters rather than actually achieving anything concrete (“Hey guys, we got in The Times. High fives!”). One comment is particularly revealing:

We’re pulling together world-wide. 40,000 people on the street in Germany this weekend – not enough, but a first step in the right direction. Don’t believe the news coverage about Rome (Italy): there were just under 100 troublemakers, but 200,000 peaceful protesters!!!

This speaks the language of symbolic environmental “leaders” like Bill McKibben, who count success in terms of numbers rather than results. According to the logic of the mainstream activist groups what matters is not that one person managed to disrupt a corrupt system, but that thousands of people marched in support of that one person.

I suspect that the same groups and “leaders” would be horrified if someone were to slice through the primary fibre optic cables connecting CNN or Fox News to the outside world if it interrupted coverage of the same protest; even if it meant the cessation of a constant barrage of state and corporate controlled news into the homes of the civilized millions.

That the Occupy protests provide a potential useful crucible for real action that may help remove the very systems the movement rails against (though not too much of it, please, because how would those “jobs” we all desire (are made to desire) be created?) is not in dispute; though from my experience, such gatherings are no more crucibles of real change than any other gathering of people who have an opportunity to talk. In fact, the very act of occupying without disrupting is likely to plant the idea into the heads of very many people that occupation without disruption is sufficient.

It is not. Here is the second quotation:

Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable.

When we speak of Empire we name the mechanisms of power that preventively and surgically stifle any revolutionary becoming in a situation. In this sense, Empire is not an enemy that confronts us head-on. It is a rhythm that imposes itself, a way of dispensing and dispersing reality. Less an order of the world than its sad, heavy and militaristic liquidation.

The goal of any insurrection is to become irreversible. It becomes irreversible when you’ve defeated both authority and the need for authority, property and the taste for appropriation, hegemony and the desire for hegemony. That is why the insurrectionary process carries within itself the form of its victory, or that of its defeat. Destruction has never been enough to make things irreversible. What matters is how it’s done.

(The Invisible Committee, “The Coming Insurrection”)

This quotation is important because it is. Read it again, then go and make your own occupation – in whatever form it may take – count.

Posted in Advice, Campaigns, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 3 Comments »

English School Embraces iPads, Apple and Techno Brainwashing

Posted by keith on 30th August 2011

There is a rule in civilized society that goes something like this: Whenever something is compulsory then it must have something wrong with it. We see it all the time, in the school system and it’s one-size-fits-all approach to child indoctrination; in the application of statutory rules that are essentially corporate policies; in the forced registration and noting of people and everything associated with them – compulsion is rampant within civilization because if it weren’t then people might do whatever they liked, and that would be a terrible blow to the economy and the power of the ruling minority.

Such is the micro-management taking place in every aspect of our lives, that it comes as little surprise when a new compulsion is introduced, and a great surprise when any genuine freedom is granted. One such new compulsion, or so it seems, that only briefly caused a ripple – and then possibly only because of a fear of increased access to pornography – was a new scheme introduced by Longfield Academy in Dartford, Kent. Essentially, every student (of state-sponsored indoctrination) will be given an iPad, which would be used to, in the school’s own words: “revolutionise learning in the new Academy and at home”. There is little about this idea that doesn’t make my skin creep, and the creeping becomes more intense as you delve deeper into the details.

The otherwise abhorrant Daily Mail was refreshingly candid in the headline to the story that broke in July, 2011: “School orders parents to buy their children a £600 iPad2″. It went on:

A school came under fire yesterday for forcing its parents to buy a £600 iPad2 for their children. Teachers at Longfield Academy, in Dartford, Kent, have succumbed to the current technology trend and are bulk-buying 1,400 of the touchscreen computer tablets made by Apple. From September the school will require all pupils to have one and are installing interactive whiteboards that link to the iPads.

Parents will have to splash out £16 a month, for three years, for the iPads – equivalent to £576. The total cost to parents at the school will be a staggering £806,400. The move by Longfield, a school for pupils aged 11 to 18, is the first of its kind in England, but hundreds of schools could follow suit as it has been revealed that some 500 are poised to adopt a similar scheme with digital education charity, e-learning Foundation.

Experts yesterday criticised Longfield for piling pressure on cash-strapped parents to pay for the ‘toy’. They questioned the school’s desire to use iPads as an educational tool – saying they were more suited to watching movies, surfing the internet and playing music.

And they warned that it will lead to an increase in the number of pupils viewing porn.

Education expert Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, said: ‘This school is jumping on the “cool” bandwagon. It’s after cheap headlines. It should instead be focusing on the quality of education it provides. The school is shamefully giving parents the impression that buying an expensive iPad is in their child’s long term interest. In reality parents are being asked to invest a small fortune in something that is little more than a toy and hugely associated with the viewing of porn.

Longfield’s decision to teach all pupils with an iPad is the first of its kind in the England.

To be honest the “porn” issue is a moot point – people will view porn whenever and however it is available, so long as it remains available, so the iPad is no worse than any other technology on this point. On every other point, though, it is clear that the scheme does nothing but feed the technological obsession of the school system while lining the pockets of Apple Computer. This latter point is made clear via the school’s own newsletter, all about the scheme, which explained:

On the 30th March two parents events were carried out where the vision for the scheme was outlined and the iPad project
manager from Apple demonstrated the educational applications of the device.

Going on to answer the revealing question, “Why are we going to use Apple only?” with a trite explanation pointing to “life expectancy” and “creative and collaborative work”, conveniently skipping over the idea that Open Source or even other commercial offerings have much the same capabilities. But that’s not the point. Apple appears to have benefitted perhaps accidentally from this decision but then been called in to ensure the technology becomes binding. Brand loyalty is what all corporations love best, and what better way to seal brand loyalty than to make your brand ubiquitous in a (to all intents and purposes) compulsory “learning” environment?

Apple love this lots, as you can see from their Youth Programs, offering among other things:

Youth Workshops
From composing a song in GarageBand to building a photo album to creating a compelling Keynote presentation, our Youth Workshops offer families with kids (ages 6 to 13) a chance to work together to hone their Mac skills and use iLife and iWork applications to complete exciting projects. We offer the free workshops at Apple Retail Stores worldwide.

Field Trip to the Apple Store
Take your students on a Field Trip to an Apple Retail Store for an unforgettable learning experience. On their Field Trip, students can create something amazing right on the spot. Or they can bring in a project they’ve already created and turn our store into a theater, sharing their achievements with parents, teachers, and friends. No matter which option you choose, everyone will have a great time.

and the exceptionally immersive:

Apple Camp
Lights. Camera. Camp. Nothing beats Apple Camp for a fun summer activity for your kids. This summer, kids ages 8-12 will learn the ins and outs of iMovie and how to make a film in about the time it takes to watch one. The free workshop, held at the Apple Retail Store, spans three days and leads up to an Apple Camp Film Festival where campers debut their masterpieces.

So by falling for the latest retail obsession, no doubt helped by the fact that it is run by the Leigh Academies Trust (motto “Act Enterprisingly. Work in Partnership. Achieve Excellence.”), Longfield Academy has allowed Apple to influence a significant part of the lives of the young people whose care it has been entrusted with. By further making the iPad a home/school deal then Apple gets to eke its way into the private lives of these same young people who without the iPads may have (horror of horrors!) decided to spend some time away from technology when they get home rather than being gripped with the ubiquity of computerisation.

I can’t finish off this noxious tale without linking to a video produced by (some of) the students of Longfield. What is really frightening is that they really think this is a good thing…


UNDERMINING OPPORTUNITY

Are you a student at Longfield Academy? Do you like being brainwashed by the technocracy and the so-called “education” system? Well, first I think it would be fair to refuse the iPad – just take it back, if you have it, or if you are today’s new intake (yes, term starts today, at the time of writing) then refuse it in the first place. Legally, no school can force you to accept the iPad; less still can they make you pay for it – they would be in breach of tax rules and subject to ferocious fines from HMRC if you were forced to pay.

And how about a nice bit of subvertising? Maybe you have an art project coming up, or perhaps something in media studies. How about taking the beloved Apple logo and turning into something a lot more truthful – perhaps a worm coming out of its rotten core, or some slave labour overseen by a grinning Apple?

Some good examples of subvertising here: http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/subvertising-gallery/, to adorn the toilet walls, or even the art room :-)

Posted in Advice, Human Rights, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Sponsorship, Subvertising | No Comments »

Money for Nothing and Your Soul for Free

Posted by keith on 6th July 2011

We, the media and I, have an interesting relationship. They leave me alone for the most part, and I give them hell because for the most part they are an industry dedicated to anti-life propaganda. Sometimes, though, they will contact me for a quote, an interview and some advice on how to keep the system running. Usually they go away disappointed, not because I don’t deliver, but because I deliver entirely the opposite of what they are looking for.

On rare occasions I make a conversion. Those are good days.

Today, there was a call from a media organisation. Gerald was after some advice on energy efficiency to syndicate to various web sites and other media outlets. I said it was a bit mainstream for me. He said that would be ok, I could still give a comment if I wanted. Being in the middle of a conversation with a friend I asked him to email me some questions and I would be sure to get back to him.

When I got back home the email was there:

From: Gerald Heneghan
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2011 11:19 AM
To: keith[at]theearthblog.org
Subject: Advice for eco-conscious homeowners

Hi Keith,

As mentioned, we’re writing a series of articles on steps homeowners who are concerned about environmental can take to improve their green credentials on a day to day basis, i.e. with home upgrades and/or the types of purchases they make. I’ve included some of the key areas we’re looking to cover below. As mentioned, we syndicate our content so if there’s some places you’d rather your comments didn’t appear (i.e. the websites of energy companies for instance) then please let me know.

– What are the best steps for a UK homeowner who is concerned about the environment to take on a day to day basis?
– Can home upgrades, i.e. energy efficient light bulbs, double glazing, insulation be of use?
– How those concerned about the environment alter their consumer behaviour to reduce the impact of global warming?

If there’s anything further you’d like to add, please feel free to digress.

All the best,

Ged Heneghan
Reporter

There wasn’t much of interest there, and I was about to respond as such, but then thought to myself: “Hang on, if he really wants my views then I assume he will be prepared to pay for them.” The company, Adfero, make money from news syndication and advertising (not that I would see it, having AdBlock installed) and yet they are expecting me to provide their material for nothing. In a radio interview there is always an opportunity to get across something of my radical agenda, which means I never ask for payment of any other kind, but pure news syndication is a business. Why should I do that for free?

From: Keith Farnish
Sent: 06 July 2011 13:23
To: Gerald Heneghan
Subject: Re: Advice for eco-conscious homeowners

Hi Gerald

Thank you for your enquiry. Please ensure that my responses are uncredited, to prevent any potential conflict – you can just say “A respected environmental expert” or suchlike.

My flat fee is £100, for which you will receive an immediately usable set of answers that can be adapted to suit within 24 hours. Payment is by bank transfer / BACS.

Kind regards

Keith

The intention would be to word a fairly radical response in a way that it could not be taken out of context without losing the meaning. That would probably take me a couple of hours to compose and as a someone who, so I have been told, writes well and authoritatively on the issues in question, that sounds like a fair deal. Apparently not.

Hi Keith,

I’m afraid we’ll have to pass on this one, we’re unable to offer remuneration for comment.

All the best,

He wasn’t asking for comment, he was virtually asking for a free article. Here’s some advice for my peers – you are not media whores. Always ask yourself: “Who stands to gain most from this?” If the answer is, “The person / organisation doing the asking”, then walk away.

Well, you get paid, don’t you? It’s only fair.

I have to eat.

Keith

Posted in Advice, Media Hypocrisy | 6 Comments »

UK Census 2011: Why I Will Be Breaking The Law on March 27, 2011

Posted by keith on 28th February 2011

On Sunday March 27, 2011 I will be breaking the law.

If you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland then I would also like you to break the law. We can do it together, and I know for a fact that an awful lot of people will be doing the same.

The UK Census 2011 is being held on that date, and everyone is expected to have their details recorded and sent back to the government for processing. Except it won’t, because it is not the job of the government to do the processing – and that is the key to why I will be breaking the law.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Census data will be recorded and processed by one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. In Scotland the Census data will be recorded and processed by a company wholly owned by a military services contractor. The following extract from the 2011 Census Security Report puts the two contractors in context:

The review team are aware that this has been a matter of public interest and note that the use of UK and EU subcontractors places Lockheed-Martin UK at arm’s length from the data gathered in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Once the data capture infrastructure has been completed. there will be a ‘scrubbing’ stage in which all routes of access for Lockheed-Martin UK employees will be removed and the Census Ofices will formally assume control, with Steria, an EU company, undertaking the necessary data management and administrative functions. There have been public assurances that the contractual arrangements have been structured to ensure that only sub-contractors registered and based in the UK, and either UK or EU owned, will have access to personal census data. No Lockheed-Martin staff (from either the US parent or UK company) will have access to any personal census data. The approach adopted by GROS [General Register Office for Scotland] has been similar, and GROS will play a major role in controlling access to the infrastructure used for processing data supplied in the 2011 Census. It is a condition of the contract with CACI (UK) that personal census information will not leave the UK. GROS have confirmed that CACI (UK)’s sub-contractors with access to 2011 Census data have no US links and that the Act, therefore, does not apply to them. GROS have also given public assurances on contractor confidentiality in this area.

It is important to note that under Patriot Act rules, any data processed by a US company for any reason can legally (under US law) be utilised for the purposes of National Security. In the case of the UK Census it is of great interest to National Security who has whatever name, living in whatever place, having whatever religious beliefs, holding whatever passport and having whatever country of origin (and maybe staying in whatever country for more than 30 days a year). This information is being collected, and there is nothing any foreign government can do to legally stop the US government and its agencies from using that data if the data gets into the US-based processing facilities of either Lockheed-Martin or CACI International Inc.

This fact has been recognised by the Office of National Statistics, revealed in a startling passage:

Concerns expressed about the possibility of the US Patriot Act being used by US intelligence services have been addressed by a number of additional contractual and operational safeguards. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure to that US authorities are unable to access census data.

The ONS know they have no legal powers to prevent the access to data, so they are merely going to try and do their best to make sure it can’t happen. Yeah, right!

And that isn’t even the major issue. As mentioned above, both of the companies involved in gathering and carrying out the initial data processing are involved in providing arms (in one case) and services (in both cases) to military operations.

The Office of National Statistics has awarded the England, Wales and Northern Ireland contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the largest arms companies in the world. From their own website:

While a pilot engaging an enemy in armed conflict is a defining moment, air power is more than just aircraft. Air power includes actual aircraft, training, focused logistics, munitions, and even targeting and navigation systems – all the interconnected pieces necessary to complete their missions successfully. Lockheed Martin is a global leader in the design, manufacture and support of military aircraft.

Lockheed Martin provides high altitude airborne reconnaissance that includes state of the art imagery sensors that collect intelligence in all weather and light conditions. This enables the warfighter to download and transmit data in real time via satellite to multiple ground stations and other manned and unmanned aircraft around the world.

The General Register Office for Scotland has awarded the Scotland contract to CACI (UK) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CACI International Inc. From their own website:

In support of DISA CACI also provides global net-centric solutions to our nation’s warfighters under all conditions of peace and war. CACI is the predominant IT services provider supporting a highly sensitive DISA agency that designs, operates and maintains presidential communication systems. CACI integrated computer network security solutions that formed a network which the National Security Agency (NSA) evaluated as one of the most secure government IT networks in the U.S.

Missile Defense Agency (MDA) – As the market leader in contracting and acquisition support, CACI has supported the MDA since 1993 by providing complex contracting and acquisition services. CACI’s expertise has been pivotal in evolving and transforming MDA’s mission over many years. CACI’s services are essential to awarding multiple billion dollar missile defense systems and associated services contracts. This cornerstone program has led CACI to become the premier contracting and acquisition support contractor and for the entire DoD and federal civilian marketplace.

Having companies like this deal with public census data is rather like having Monsanto carry out your gardening. They might be able to do the job, but do you really trust them to do the right thing; and do you really feel comfortable paying them to do the job given what they routinely do to the natural ecosystems of the world?

So that is why I will be breaking the law on Sunday March 27, 2011. And that’s why I will be explaining to the census-taker when they come to my door to collect the form that, for both data security and ethical reasons I wish to have no part in the Census. I will not be filling it in.

I know for a fact that I won’t be going to jail, despite what some media sources have been claiming, and I probably won’t even get a fine*; but if push comes to shove, here are some other things I might be trying to avoid giving any satisfaction to the peddlers of blood gathering the data:

1) Spoiling the Census form by making it illegible;

2) Filling in vague data that provides no useful information, but is not false in any way;

3) Filibusting on the doorstep, so that the census-taker runs out of time;

4) Claiming the rights of a Conscientious Objector given the business of the business of the companies involved (particulaly useful if this ever goes to court, for more information read this article).

I don’t think I will be the only person doing this…

— ————

*From the Census Act 1920

Penalties.

(1)If any person—

(a)refuses or neglects to comply with or acts in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or any Order in Council or regulations made under this Act; or

(b)being a person required under this Act to make a statutory declaration with respect to the performance of his duties, makes a false declaration; or

(c)being a person required by any Order in Council or regulations made under this Act to make, sign, or deliver any document, makes, signs, or delivers, or causes to be made, signed, or delivered a false document; or

(d)being a person required in pursuance of any such Order in Council or regulations to answer any question, refuses to answer or gives a false answer to that question;

he shall for each offence be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

Posted in Advice, Human Rights, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage | 6 Comments »

How to Remove Conduit Engine Search from Firefox 3.x

Posted by keith on 8th December 2010

I know this isn’t a tecchie blog, but sometimes I come across a problem to which there isn’t a solution listed and have to work it out for myself. In this case I (ill-advisedly as it turned out) upgraded BitTorrent to version 7 (7.1 and 7.2 at present). This is sort of pertinent to The Unsuitablog as I have been recently accessing a number of Wikileaks files via BitTorrent (other torrent software is available) for – ahem – research purposes.

Anyhow, upon upgrading BitTorrent, I found three things had happened, all of which greatly annoyed me.

1) A couple of new toolbar widgety-type things had ensconced themselves in Firefox
2) The search box had been hijacked
3) The URL bar search facility had also been hijacked

It turned out that the makers of BitTorrent had been a little foolish, using something called Conduit Engine to create a toolbar. The problem with this is that when you use Conduit Engine then it stays used: you have to accept (or rather your users have to accept) all the crap that comes along with it, screwing up your search options seemingly forever; or at least until you completely uninstall Firefox and reinstall it. And even then it will probably still be around.

Fortunately there are a few simple fixes which I have worked out, none of which (thankfully) involve hacking the Windows Registry, and all of which are neatly isolated within the Firefox domain. This is just for Windows Vista and Windows 7, although the operations are very similar for Windows XP. You’ll have to work it out for yourself if you have a Mac or Linux, although some of the tips might be relevant.

1) To get rid of the Toolbar / widget things, you need to go to Tools > Add-ons > Plugins, and uninstall the two entries pertaining to BitTorrent and Conduit. You will need to restart Firefox twice for this. Check that they are both gone when you have restarted.

2) To remove the Search Box hijack, click on the down-arrow next to the search box (it will probably have a Google symbol next to it) and select Manage Search Engines. Then select any search engine you don’t like the look of or recognise – you will be surprised how many there are – and for each one click Remove.

3) They were the easy bits. Now to remove the Conduit Engine itself.

You need to have Firefox shut down for this, as it restores some of the files upon shutdown to prevent corruption. First, locate you Roaming Application Profiles. You will need to be an administrator to do this, but assuming you are, in Explorer select Tools > Folder Options > View tab (if Tools is not visible, hit Alt) and ensure the radio button for “Show hidden files, folders and drives” is selected and “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” is unchecked (you will be asked to confirm this).

Find your profile. This will be located in your home drive (probably C:) in the “Users” or “Documents and Settings” (for XP) folder, so in my case it is C:\Users\Keith. Ensuring you have Folder View open, click on the {profile} folder and in the right-hand pane locate AppData (or Local Settings\Application Data for XP). Within this is the folder “Roaming”, within which is the Firefox Profile folder, e.g. {profile}\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles.

Beneath that is your random profile ID folder, which will be something like “1234abcd.default”. This folder I will call {fprofile}.

First, locate the pesky Conduit Engine folders, which contain most of the gubbins associated with this monster. Delete the folders {fprofile}\conduit and {fprofile}\CT2790392 (I can’t vouch for this exact number, but it seems to be standard at the moment).

Find the file {fprofile}\prefs.js and save a copy of this with a .backup extension. Right click on prefs.js and select “Edit”; this will (should) open the javascript file in Notepad.

You need to remove all references to Conduit:

First, delete every line beginning with the following:

user_pref("CT2790392.
user_pref("CommunityToolbar.

Second, locate the following line:

user_pref("browser.search.defaulturl", "http://search.conduit.com/ResultsExt.aspx?ctid=CT2790392&SearchSource=3&q={searchTerms}");

Change it to (for Google search):

user_pref("browser.search.defaulturl", "http://www.google.com/search?lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=");

You will need to find the relevant command line for your own search engine, or just leave the second quotes empty for no URL bar searching.

Finally, locate the line:

user_pref("keyword.URL", "http://search.conduit.com/ResultsExt.aspx?ctid=CT2790392&q=");

and change it to (for Google):

user_pref("keyword.URL", "http://www.google.com/search?lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=");

Again, you will need to find your own code for different search engines: I’m not a huge fan of Google, but at least you can just delete the cookie to remove your search history, or use Private Browsing.

Save the file, and restart Firefox.

As far as I know, that’s it. Any comments and additions, please say your piece below.

UPDATE: Have been experimenting with Internet Explorer, and suffice to say because of the closed source nature of IE, removing Conduit is a complete pain. First you must uninstall all Toolbars that you are not 100% confident are safe; ALL OF THEM. After this, all I could do was to scour the registry for “conduit”, ignore the Apple keys, and delete every key and sole-containing folder. Then it was a case of deleting the relevant “conduit” folders in Program Files. Good Luck!

Posted in Advice | 25 Comments »

WIKILEAKS MIRROR SITES – IMPORTANT

Posted by keith on 3rd December 2010

The Wikileaks servers are under constant pressure and attack: both the sheer weight of traffic and the efforts of various government agencies to bring the servers down, or damage the DNS records, are conspiring to make the main wikileaks.org site unavailable. But this is not really a problem for two reasons: first, the latest batch of leaks is already circulating, in the hands of both the mainstream media and also countless numbers of individuals who are ensuring the data is kept safe. Second, there are a number of mirror servers that are hosting the Wikileaks database in various locations around the world. The single page site www.wikileaks.info holds a reliable list of the mirror servers along with various alternative information portals. The information below, derived from that page, will be kept up to date as far as I am able.

* wikileaks.org – Official Wikileaks Page [46.51.171.90, 184.72.37.90]

* wikileaks.ch – Alternate live page (thanks for Patti for info)

* cablegate.wikileaks.org – Secret US Embassy Cables [91.194.60.90, 91.194.60.112, 204.236.131.131]

* chat.wikileaks.org – Secure SSL Chat Page [88.80.13.160], currently unavailable

* sunshinepress.org – Secure Document Submission Page [88.80.2.32 – currently 213.251.145.96/]

* wikileaks.com – Currently unavailable

* wikileaks.net – Currently parked

* wikileaks.biz – Currently parked

* wikileaks.de – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.eu – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.fi – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.mobi – Currently parked

* wikileaks.nl – Possibly a full mirror

* wikileaks.pl – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.us – Currently parked

* ljsf.org – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160]

Real mirrors on different IP Addresses:

* wikileaks.info – Mirror hosted in Switzerland [62.2.16.94]

* wikileaks.se – Mirror hosted in Sweden [88.80.6.179]

* nyud.net – Mirror hosted in the United States [129.170.214.192]

* zxq.net – Static Cablegate mirror (thanks to Maria for link)

Important Wikileaks Links:

* twitter.com/wikileaks – Official Wikileaks Twitter Page

* facebook.com/wikileaks – Official Wikileaks Facebook Page

In addition, if you are a Torrenter (BitTorrent etc.) then please take a moment to download (and host if possible) the encrypted Wikileaks Insurance file. This is likely to be another batch of “hot” information, with the decryption key being released in the event of the Wikileaks infrastructure or staff being severely compromised in any way. More information on the Insurance file is available here.

Information on how to Mirror Wikileaks is on this page – a dynamic list will be maintained as soon as 50 mirrors are established.

Thank you.

Posted in Advice, Cover Ups, Exposure | 6 Comments »

Monthly Undermining Task, November 2010: The Online Infocrunch

Posted by keith on 9th November 2010

Where do you go for information? I guess, because you are reading this as a web page, then your primary resource for information that you need in a hurry (and aren’t we all in a hurry nowadays?) is the Internet. As far as corporations go, online presence has now eclipsed printed and television media as the primary location for information. Well, I say “information” but that would be crediting the corporate world with far too much honesty: what I really mean is that the Internet is the primary location for propaganda. Call it PR, corporate information, spinning…whatever you like, but what the corporate world presents to the public is always going to be propaganda.

The Internet is manna to business, not particularly because it presents new opportunities for selling stuff – after all, the richest man in history (John D. Rockefeller, whose fortune is still being used to fund organisations like 350.org) made his fortune in an era when newspapers were king – but because the “information” can be so much more tightly controlled. Want to know about ExxonMobil, and most people will just type “Exxon” into Google and, at the time of writing, the three top hits will be ExxonMobil corporate links. The fourth proper link, not unexpectedly, is to the Wikipedia entry; something I will come to later. By controlling the portals of “information” ExxonMobil are able to control the message that is sent out to the world – to wit:

And a lovely spinny molecular graphic which, presumably is some kind of hydrocarbon.

What if the logo changed?

There, that’s a lot more accurate – it would really piss the company off, and take the rosy hue from the public perception that ExxonMobil have been so careful to cultivate. But here’s the thing: no one is going to see my new logo because (a) it’s not on the official ExxonMobil websites, (b) my own website doesn’t have much presence compared to the other links, (c) even if it did, it wouldn’t fool anyone that this is the real ExxonMobil logo because it’s not on a corporate web site. And that’s besides the obvious problem of being sued for passing the logo off as genuine.

That said, spoofs are most definitely part of the game on the Internet, which is why none of mine have ever been subject to a “take down” demand; the corporations are far too savvy to draw any attention to something they really wouldn’t like in the public eye, whether it’s a more truthful logo, the wording on a pretend “genuine” website, or a Wikipedia entry. Which brings me to the next point: I bet from time to time you have wanted to change something on Wikipedia; you might have even made a change, only to find that the article reverts back to the original as soon as your back is turned. Moderation exists on Wikipedia – by far the most referenced source of general information on the Internet, if not the entire global information corpus – to prevent vandalism; regardless of how well-meaning changes may be, if a change is made for nefarious reasons then it is considered to be vandalism. This isn’t looking very easy, is it?

So what about creating a new website that will be referenced as much, if not more than the corporate propaganda one? You’ll be lucky. It can be the finest example of the genre; it can be Digg-ed, Like-d and Reddit-ed to the hilt, but to hit a major corporation with a Googlebomb is asking for a minor miracle. There have to be easier ways to undermine the world of online information.

Well, there are; but you can also do all of the aforementioned as well – you just have to be smarter than smart about it, which is what I am going to try and help with here. I may not be clever enough to actually execute all of this, but I reckon the two of us (and anyone else you want to work with) can do a pretty good job screwing up the online corporate propaganda machine if we set our minds and hands to it…

Quick Wins

The following Undermining actions are low risk and easy to do, so there’s really no excuse not to do at least a couple of them when you have a moment to spare. The first one, is one that sticks pins in corporations’ feet. Social networking has been monopolised by Facebook – and there are plenty of bad things to say about Facebook now, including how it makes people feel they have achieved something useful, when they haven’t – and many corporations, along with the more corporate-friendly NGOs (like The Nature Conservancy and WWF) have created Fan Groups to give themselves a wider online presence. If you have a Facebook account, then I would encourage you to look for these Groups, join them and make mischief. The worst that can happen is that you get blocked, but as with the Nestle group, enough people who “Like” but don’t like has completely destroyed their social networking presence, despite Nestle recruiting hundreds of people to make positive comments.

You might like to try the same with The Nature Conservancy and Chevron; keep your eye out for more, because the corporations would love to control social media as much as they control the mass media.

Talking of the mass media, virtually every newspaper in the industrial world now has a web presence, and in very many cases it positively loves people to comment on stories. Some papers like The Guardian have a very high level of comments per article, but some – like the New York Times, surprisingly – get very few comments on the articles they open up. This one on BHP Billiton, is crying out for a few negative comments. The point is that you and I are almost certainly not going to get enough web connectivity to attract readers to blogs about companies; the big newspaper web sites, on the other hand, are highly syndicated and reposted, so that’s the place to do the Undermining.

Some of the more widely read blogs, such as Huffington Post and Mashable, cover corporate stories on a regular basis – again, negative comments, correcting the assumption that growth and profit are a good thing (amongst other lies) are always worth a shot. Even if you get flamed, you will have still made a point in a place where lots of people are likely to see it. The Technorati list is a good place to start looking for potential Undermining targets.

The following three Undermining Actions are a little more involved – in fact they can be very involved if you want them to be – and are listed in approximate order of both risk and also effort. There is no real correlation between risk and effort, and often the more effort you put into something, the less risk you entail; but if something requires more effort full stop to attain, then there are more opportunities to make mistakes, so be careful if you find yourself biting off more than you can chew: it may be that you are not up to the task, and that’s no bad thing to admit.

Wikicorrecting

I’m not one of those people who generally looks at Wikipedia and thinks, “That’s completely wrong, it must be changed!” Part of the reason is that as a media form, Wikis are supposed to be self-regulating, and the more people involved in the Wiki – in general – the better the self-regulation. Ok, there are some Wikis, like the infamous Conservapedia, that have such a bulk of prejudiced users that any attempt to correct information is doomed to failure (that said, it would be fun to try…) but in the main, a good Wiki, like Wikipedia is going to end up about as balanced as it’s possible to be in the context of Industrial Civilization. You can’t really expect it to go against the tenets of the industrial system, but you can make it more objective.

As an example, I stumbled across an article (presumably) posted by an employee of either IBM or one of their PR firms. The article in question was promoting the virtues of IBM’s Green Computing, and was a blatant advert. Simply by marking the article with the appropriate “Speedy Deletion” tag – in this case {{db-promo}} – the article was deleted by an administrator, never to be seen again. One bit of greenwash consigned to the virtual dustbin.

Of course, there is more to Undermining than just correcting obvious bias: what about exposing the real truth behind the corporate system? Yes, you can do it on Wikipedia, but you need to tread lightly…

It is easy for a person to vandalize Wikipedia. Since anyone can edit any page, the possibility is always there. The vandal might add profanity or inappropriate images to a page, might erase all the content of a page, etc.

However, there are tools that make it easy for the community to find and remove vandalism. There are also other tools available on Wikipedia to help corral users who are persistently destructive. For example:

* It is easy for anyone who sees vandalism to revert pages back to a pre-vandalism state.
* It is easy for any user to alert the rest of the Wikipedia community to vandalism that is in progress.
* It is possible for an admin to block or ban users (or IP addresses) who are persistently destructive.
* It is possible for an admin to protect a page temporarily to keep people from changing it.
* It is possible for an admin to delete an inappropriate page.

Tools like these make it easy for members of the community to quickly eliminate vandalism and prevent vandals from coming back.

(from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/wiki3.htm)

It’s no good just steaming in with a rant as, certainly in the case of higher-profile pages, the changes will be undone. Therefore, you have three options:

1) Make sure the changes you make are evidence-based, referenced and written properly. Anything that suggests vandalism will be reverted. You have to justify inclusion of new information, and removal of someone else’s, so you might need to refer to “reinstating balance” or suchlike in your notes.

2) Make subtle textual changes that alter the meaning of entries, undermining any positive image the company or organisation may benefit from. Always mark changes as “This is a minor edit”, and explain it is for clarity.

3) Make changes to unwatched entries. From the point of view of a Underminer, the most useful Wikipedia page by far is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_reports/Most-watched_pages (this is probably second: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_reports/Pages_with_the_most_revisions) as it indicates those entries you cannot “vandalise” (a.k.a. make more accurate) without comeback. Also, look for the last edit date: if it is more than a year ago then you should be able to get away with more nefarious changes, even blatant hacking without the change being reverted.

In all cases, make changes either anonymously (for minor edits) or under a disposable alias.

Online Subvertising

Subvertising is the act of undermining the message that advertisers wish to present. There are many ways to do this, and I have gone into a great deal of detail elsewhere on The Unsuitablog. Here is the related Monthly Undermining Task, here is the Subvertising Gallery, and here is the Earth First! guide to subvertising billboards for anyone who wants to take it to a more practical level.

Assuming you have a new, more accurate graphic, the wider the coverage of it, the better; this does not mean getting a few mates to post it on their blogs – unless those blogs are read by thousands of people* – it means that the subvertising has to effectively usurp the advertisers’ message in situ, just like a subvertised billboard does. The difficulty is that, as I said above, you can’t just change the corporate web site (I’m sure there are a one or two people willing to hack sites just to change a logo, but it’s a big risk for a change that will likely only last a few minutes); you need to find places where the logo or advert is normally placed online and find a way of replacing it. Wikipedia is, of course, one such place – with the provisos above; and as an experiment I have changed the logo on the Rainforest Alliance entry:

Somehow, I don’t think this will last long, but are there better places for subvertising? What about getting your logo on Google Images? Google Images is often used as a place for people to download corporate graphics. If you have a fairly well connected blog, like this one, or are able to contribute to something like that then you could be onto a winner at least with smaller companies, organisations or campaigns. The Avon “Hello Green Tomorrow” campaign was something I blogged about, and as a result it immediately went to near the top of the Google search rankings for “hello green tomorrow”, but the graphic I used didn’t do so well in the Google Images ranking. What I did wrong was not to include anything in the Alt Text – so as another experiment, I have inserted the following: “Hello Green Tomorrow Avon logo”. Prior to making that change, the logo languished on page 3. Almost immediately, the image search has placed it; well, here you go:

I’m sure you can be more creative than that.

*You can check how many visitors almost any site has by going to compete.com.

Spoofing

The final action, and no doubt the most complex, is the act of Spoofing. “Spoofing” means pretending to be somone or something you aren’t, but appearing on the surface to be that thing; a very common spoofing method is usually known as Phishing, which you will no doubt have encountered from time to time and, I’m sure, not been fooled by.

The basic techniques of phishing are certainly valid in spoofing a company or organisation, but like any method in this arena, they are not for the faint-hearted. However, by using a generic example of spoofing a corporation, including the option of phishing – not for money, but to damage their reputation – I can give an insight into at least the fundamentals of carrying out a large-scale spoof.

The best recent example of a corporate spoof (in both senses of the word) was that carried out by The Yes Men on Chevron in October, 2010. The non-technical details have been blogged by Andy Bichlbaum; but in a technical sense, what they did falls pretty much within the scope of the following, give or take a few steps.

1) Create your web page(s): make it as close to the look and feel of those of your target as works with the nature of the spoof you are carrying out. Ideally you should use as much of the source code of the original web site as you can, as well as (for all that you are not changing) using the original links. Test your page(s) thoroughly in every common browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari should cover it).

1a) If you are doing a complete bait-and-switch, i.e. presenting something completely different than the original, then the code is up to you; though be aware that anything more than a fake “holding” page will immediately be seen as a spoof.

2) Work out your hosting and URL redirection methodology. I’m assuming here that you have bought an appropriate domain name, such as www.chevron-weagree.com, otherwise your spoof will have to be of the Phishing variety (see 2a) If you have admin rights where the web page(s) will be hosted then you can control the way the URL displays, but will need to change the DNS record for the domain, and anyone with a bit of nous will be able to find out the details of your server(s). Alternatively, you can just set up a Framed Redirection via your domain provider, which will mask the URL of your spoofed page(s).

2a) For a straight Phishing attack you will be using what appears to be the official URL to go to the spoof page(s). Most anti-virus software will detect phishing in emails, but you could always use this technique in forums and blogs where you can edit the HTML. Even if you use phishing, you will probably still need the redirection or DNS change in place.

3) If you are not sending out a press release or invitation to view and just relying on the spoof, then that’s all you need to do; but you won’t get much traffic unless you have a really convincing URL (see www.vedanta-resources.com) so you will at least need to publicise your efforts as in 2a) above. If you are sending out a press release then you will need to set up at least one mailbox under your fake domain name, otherwise your information will lack credibility. If you can use a third party email client then that will protect your personal details (and the security of your own computer); most domain providers have that facility for a small additional fee. Be aware, though, that this is a form of abuse, so you may lose your account if you are found out.

4) Send out your press releases: make them as similar to the official press releases as you can, including embedded logos (proper ones) and contact details as appropriate. It is up to you whether you respond (the Yes Men don’t tend to), but if you do then keep all responses in the official form of the original. Telephone numbers are not recommended unless you have a call centre to hand.

5) Follow up. As per the Chevron spoof, a good follow up, turning the tables, can really extend the life of any spoof: my own blog on this contains the original text of the Yes Men emails.

Note that I have been fairly light on technical detail: if you are not technically adept at something like this then you either need to learn, or find someone who is and you can trust to help you. This is also only a rough template – there are so many ways of spoofing that are more complex, but I think this provides as least a starting point for those of you who may, very soon, be undermining the very fabric of the online corporate propaganda machine.

Posted in Advice, Monthly Undermining Tasks, Spoofs, Subvertising | 4 Comments »

After The Yes Men’s Chevron Spoof, What Next For YOU?

Posted by keith on 26th October 2010

Strike while the iron is hot, or take a breather and think about your next move. The feelings of an Underminer during a hot spoof are often confused, but in some cases a retrospective look is necessary in order to understand what effective action really means. Case in point, the action by the Yes Men in undermining Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign, which for reasons Googley, I’m not going to link to.

At 07:37 BST (that’s 02:37 EST) an email popped into my mailbox purporting to come from Chevron Corp. Fortunately I was up at around this time, read the email, examined the headers, looked at the links and concluded it was a spoof: a very good spoof. Here’s the email:

From: Chevron Media Relations
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 7:37 AM
To: Keith Farnish
Subject: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

To view this release on the web, please click here

Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

By honestly featuring oil industry misdeeds, Chevron “We Agree” campaign scores ad industry first
SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) has announced a new global advertising campaign aimed at showing Chevron as a “real people” corporation, and admitting to problems that companies usually try to hide.

“We want the world to know that we’re just like you and me,” said Chevron Vice Chairman George L. Kirkland. “We’ve got problems and challenges, and we too make mistakes, but we’re telling truths no one usually tells, and looking wide-eyed into the future.”

The candid advertising campaign, created by award-winning long-time Chevron ad partner McGarryBowen, features real people on the receiving end of Chevron controversies in Ecuador, Nigeria, the U.S. Gulf Coast and elsewhere. Each print ad is designed with an authentic pop-culture street-art aesthetic, and features a sincere slogan followed by a big red “We Agree” stamp, the signature of Chevron executives, and the Chevron logo.

“Chevron is making a clean break from the past by taking direct responsibility for our own actions,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs.

“Oil Companies Should Clean Up Their Messes,” reads one ad; the small print refers candidly to the damage done by oil companies around the world. “For decades, oil companies like ours have worked in disadvantaged areas, influencing policy in order to do there what we can’t do at home. It’s time this changed.”

Another ad, “Oil Companies Should Fix The Problems They Create,” is just as topical. “Extracting oil from the Earth is a risky process, and mistakes do happen. It’s easy to pass the blame or ignore the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, we need to face them head on, accept our financial and environmental responsibilities, and fund new technologies to avoid these mistakes in the future.”

“We were asked to show an agreeable, involved, of-the-people face for Chevron, and we think we came up with some really great ways of doing that,” said Gordon Bowen, Chief Creative Officer of McGarryBowen. “But what’s unique and different here is the honesty. We’ve never been able to do this before.”

“We’re telling truths no one usually tells,” said Zygocki. “We’re changing the way the whole industry speaks.”

“BP’s response to the Gulf tragedy was widely perceived as perfunctory and insincere,” noted Bowen. “Chevron has big problems too, like in Ecuador – but they’re really stepping up to the plate.”

The “We Agree” campaign is an evolution of Chevron’s “Power of Human Energy” campaign, which launched in 2007 with a series of print, online, broadcast and outdoor ads that all sought to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the major issues facing the energy industry. Though the exact cost of “We Agree” remains confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

“‘We Agree’ conveys that Chevron is all for people,” said Zygocki. “Just as ‘We’ is inclusive, so Chevron is inclusive. It’s time we were on the side of people, no matter where those people are from.”

Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. The company has about 58,000 employees, and Chevron’s subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries. Chevron operates across the entire energy spectrum – exploring for, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing and distributing fuels and other energy products; generating power; designing and marketing large-scale energy efficiency solutions; and commercializing the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif.

Please visit http://www.chevron-weagree.com for more on the “We Agree” campaign. More information about Chevron is available at http://www.chevron.com.

At this point, some people other than me were bound to have uncovered the ruse, but rather than making a big deal of it, I chose to keep quiet and let things take their course: what is the point of supporting something if you’re going to uncover it in public in the same breathe? I also wanted to think that this wasn’t the work of the Yes Men.

A strange sentiment? Well, after popping back a quick note to the originators…

That is very clever – don’t worry, I won’t tell. But if you need any help then let me know. Good mask on the domain names too.

K.

…I noticed that this bore far more of a resemblance to the kinds of spoofs that I have been discussing on my blogs, and even (ahem!) carrying out myself. I really wanted this to be from at least a Yes Men spin-off, if not a completely independent entity, because it would mean that the PR companies and corporate killers were starting to lose control of things.

Later on in the day, it was becoming clear that the Yes Men were being fingered with the spoof, the spoof itself (partly “thanks” to various smartarse bloggers) having been exposed fairly quickly. Following this exposure period something happened which gave new legs to the action – another press release from “Chevron”:

From: Chevron Corp.
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:45 PM
To: keith-farnish.plus.com
Subject: STATEMENT: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options


Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

For a complete listing of our news releases, please click here

Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign, confusing reporters (link). While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is Chevron.com/weagree. The advertisements released earlier today, at Chevron-weagree.com, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real.

“Chevron does not take this attack lightly,” said Hewitt Pate, General Counsel for Chevron. “We invest extremely heavily in our campaigns, and we take them extremely seriously. Such actions can never be tolerated.” Though the exact cost of “We Agree” must remain confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

Pate also noted that the environmentalists have made libellous allegations regarding Chevron’s record and obligations in Ecuador and beyond. “Despite what some will say, we are not obliged to abide by decisions that Ecuadorian judges make or do not make. This is because we have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s.”

“We have always upheld the best values of every country to which we are attached,” added Pate.

“This hoax is part of an ongoing effort to blame Chevron for 18 billion gallons of toxic waste dumped in the Amazon during drilling operations,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “This blame game continues despite Chevron’s long-standing agreement with the Ecuadorian government which very obviously puts the issue behind us.”

For further information please visit Chevron’s official press page. For more information about Chevron please visit www.Chevron.com.

What was going on here was an attempt to inject some confusion into the story, by using a fake press release site to disseminate fake anger at a real spoof, while also adding fuel to the fire of Chevron’s abuses in South America.

Again, I fired off a quick response, and then kept schtum:

Oh, that’s wonderful. Slight coding error on the website (“stories” and “global issue”s toplinks are broken) but otherwise a brilliant bit of “heading them off at the pass” just as people realise it was a hoax. *I’m* not convinced you’re the Yes Men, though

Keith

I didn’t get a response, as responding in the affirmative is something you should never do when trying to cover your tracks, but they did fix the links – someone was on the ball here.

Someone at Business Week clearly wasn’t on the ball, as their article the next day clearly attests to. They may have been taken in by the further fakery related to Advertising Age, for not only was the Chevron site a fake, there was a fake AdAge web site to boot, something that is recorded in some detail by the real Advertising Age:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — First BP was targeted with a satirical Twitter feed, and now oil giant Chevron has been hit by pranksters hijacking its corporate-public-relations efforts. While the prank may go unnoticed by consumers, it does raise issues for both marketers and media.

The hoax that Chevron is now grappling with is far more elaborate and is timed to the launch of an ad campaign from the San Ramon, Calif.-based company and its lead agency, Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen.

Not only was a fake website created that parodied the real campaign, but fake press releases were sent out, including one posted to a site that looks remarkably similar to Chevron’s actual website. That release uses fake quotes by Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron’s VP-policy, government and public affairs, and Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer of McGarryBowen.

As part of the prank, there was even a fake story planted on a fake Ad Age site. Ad Age received calls Monday morning from someone purporting to be a Chevron spokesperson saying an erroneous story was posted to the AdAge.com. While the story looked real — the masthead and frames were swiped from a Marketer of the Year story posted to AdAge.com and the text was replaced with a Chevron story — the URL was a fake, one that misspelled the “advertising” in advertisingage.com (and there was no byline on the piece).

So that is that, it seems. The story has all but blown over and, with more irony that a professor of linguistics could muster, Chevron’s latest press release is trumpeting a new attempt at large-scale deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

But that is not that!

It doesn’t take a computer genius or expert in public relations to dream up and execute something that could do great damage to a company or even an entire government; something I will be writing about at length in my new book. People who follow my writing may have come across this article on The Sietch a couple of years ago. You will have to take my word for it that at least three more spoofs have been carried out in three entirely different ways since then, with varying success.

And I am just one person.

What about you?

Posted in Advice, Exposure, Good News!, Spoofs, Subvertising | No Comments »

What I Am Doing For 10/10/10

Posted by keith on 9th October 2010


After all, it is a special day.

Posted in Advice, Sabotage | 3 Comments »