Friday, December 9, 2011

The 3rd World War is being fought in cyberspace!

As the fallout from the Independent’s sting on Bell Pottinger rumbles on, it has now emerged that they have used so-called “sockpuppet accounts” to spin Wikipedia pages for their clients — including smearing Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law by adding material accusing her of “inciting racial hatred”.

Clare Rewcastle Brown is a Malaysian-born British investigative journalist who has made a career out of campaigning against corruption and environmental violations. She founded a blog and radio station against deforestation in the state of Sawark.

Building on work from blogger Tim Ireland, Wikipedia have identified a list of accounts operated by Bell Pottinger, along with a collection of pages which they have edited.  The account Biggleswiki  - which Bell Pottinger have confirmed was operated by them - has created and populated a section for “criticisms” of the journalist.

Before it was removed in the cull of Bell Pottinger material, material was added which was sourced to a newspaper owned by a governing political party in Malaysia:

“On 25 February 2011, the Malaysian Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang announced that Radio Free Sarawak [founded by Rewcastle Brown] was not licensed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, and was therefore operating illegally. At the same time, RFS was accused of inciting racial hatred in Sarawak through its daily broadcasts.”

To further impugn her reputation, edits to the page to cast aspersions on her being born in Malaysia. Bell Pottinger have also been linked to other Wikipedia content supportive of vested interests in Malaysia, including creating the page for the Earth Awards, established by the Malaysian government, upon whom they heap praise.

[Source: The Political Scrapbook]

Once again Taib’s dirty tricks against Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak have spectacularly backfired!

In the past few hours it has emerged that the Chief Minister, along with his son-in-law, Sean Murray, was one of the clients who hired Bell Pottinger to alter Wikipedia entries about themselves, their companies, Sarawak… and, of course, Sarawak Report/Radio Free Sarawak!

Harry Potter generation: cross-section of Bell Pottinger's
"public affairs consultants" (from their website)

Bell Pottinger is the PR giant that has been at the centre of a scandal that has been gripping the UK since Tuesday. The company, which first achieved fame as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite agency, has developed a reputation for professional ruthlessness and a willingness to do business with unpleasant clients.

Video sting

They demonstrated these questionable ethics when they were exposed earlier this week in a sting by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, posing as representatives of Uzbekistan, which has been condemned for promoting the slave labour of children in the cotton industry.

Bell Pottinger staff were caught on camera saying they would be willing to work on improving the country’s image, even though reform might be minimal. They would charge a million pounds a year (RM5 million) or a hundred thousand a month.

At the same time the company was exposed for bragging that it had special access to UK Prime Minister David Cameron for clients wishing to lobby the British Government, which has been hugely embarrassing for the Conservative Party.

Taib was a client!

Now the scandal has rolled into its 3rd day with further exposes about Bell Pottinger’s willingness to engage in ‘Dark Arts,’ such as the secretive alteration of people’s Wikipedia entries. The story is splashing around UK newspapers, but is being led by The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

After the details of ten pseudonyms used by Bell Pottinger to alter information about their clients were released by Wikipedia a few hours ago, it emerged that one of the key users of this service was none other than Taib Mahmud and his son-in-law Sean Murray!

List of Wikipedia entries altered by Bell Pottinger using the pseudonym 'Biggleswiki'

[Source: Sarawak Report]