remove office writes: "After I wrote about how Belkin's Amazon.com sales rep Mike Bayard had been paying for fake reviews of his company's products using Mechanical Turk (Slashdot story here), hundreds of readers across the web expressed their umbrage. As a result of the online outcry, Belkin's president Mark Reynoso has issued a statement apologizing and saying that "this is an isolated incident" and that "Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this." Amazon moved swiftly to remove several reviews on Belkin products it believed were fraudulent, although now fresh evidence of astroturfing has surfaced. Now I'm curious: what steps do Slashdotters think that online retailers can do to protect themselves and their customers from fake reviews?"
remove office writes: I recently discovered that that Belkin's lead online sales rep, Michael Bayard, has been secretly paying internet users to review his company's products favorably on Amazon.com and other websites like Newegg, whether or not they've ever used them. Bayard instructed the people he was paying to "Write as if you own the product and are using it... Mark any other negative reviews as 'not helpful' once you post yours." Ironically, he was using Amazon's own Mechanical Turk service to hire his fraudsters (did he honestly think he wouldn't get caught?). Are Slashdotters aware of other examples of other such blatant astroturfing on behalf of a large tech company like Belkin?
remove office writes: "On July 9, Slashdot published a story titled "Nancy Pelosi vs. the Internet" which falsely insinuated that the Democratic House Speaker was "scheming to impose rules barring any member of Congress from posting opinions on any internet site without first obtaining prior approval from the Democratic leadership of Congress. No blogs, twitter, online forums — nothing." It turns out, that's just not true. Pelosi herself scoffed at such rumors, explaining "Like many other Members, I have a blog, use YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Digg, and other new media to communicate with constituents, and I believe they are vital tools toward increasing transparency and accountability." To be clear, Pelosi's proposed regulations would only effect members of Congress who are using taxpayer money to produce web videos for their re-election campaigns (which is already illegal in principle)."
remove office writes: "Self-described muck-raking filmmaker Michael Moore has embraced an internet leak of his new health care documentary "SiCKO," even before the film hits theaters on June 29th. Moore, who has been a harsh critic of the MPAA in the past, said "I'm just happy that people get to see my movies. I'm not a big supporter of the copyright laws in this country." He also said piracy ultimately helps artists, and recalled how he was introduced to one of his favorite bands (The Clash), after somebody gave him a pirated casette tape (he says he later bought all their albums and attended paid to attend their concerts). Still, Moore hoped people would see the film in theaters anyways: "I wanted to do something for your laptop or your iPod, I would go do that. But I've chosen obviously to make things that I want seen on a big screen.""
remove office writes: "Earlier this month, Slashdotters read an article I wrote about how CNN plans to release its upcoming Democratic presidential debate under a Creative Commons type license that would allow people to reuse the footage without restriction. Now the Democratic National Committee has gone one step further and announced that their CNN debate will be cosponsored with YouTube and Google, raising the possibility that debate footage will be made available online for free. Previously, both Fox News and MSNBC have made short clips from the debates they sponsored available in streaming Flash and Windows Media formats, interrupted by more commercials than they were originally broadcast with."
AKP writes: "While many investigating the mysterious Department of Justice firings of several US Attorneys last year are focusing on the role of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a new report at BradBlog indicates that some firings may have been done to influence the 2008 presidential election. Karl Rove has reportedly promised GOP operatives that 11 states will be key in deciding the next race for the White House, and US Attorneys in 9 of those states have been conveniently been replaced with prosecutors who some allege are more likely to help disenfranchise minority voters. Also from the article, allegations are swirling that one of Rove's close associates (who was appointed as a US Attorney without normal Senate confirmation due to an obscure PATRIOT Act loophole) was put in place so he could start investigating Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee in 2008."
Arlen writes: "As many as 17,000 people (according to police estimates) watched Senator Barack Obama officially announce his candidacy for President in Springfield Illinois today, he mentioned several things that Slashdotters will be interested in. The Senator said he wanted to free America from what he called "the tyranny of oil," and went on to promote alternative energy sources such as ethanol (a big political winner in the midwest where he announced, because of all the corn farmers). He also talked about using science and technology to help those with chronic diseases, which is likely to have been an allusion to his staunch support of stem cell research. Perhaps most of interest to Slashdotters however is that Obama made the following statement halfway through his speech: "Let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America. We can do that." Like nearly everything in his speech, this was met with robust applause from the crowd. You can watch a video of the entire speech at Obama's website."