During the Microsoft antitrust battle in 1998, Microsoft's PR dept realised that Linux and, well, anything that wasn't made by Billy Boy, had grassroots supporters (i.e, actual supporters who truly believe in the cause). These supporters, by their nature, are often very cynical.

So what did MS PR, in their infinite wisdom, do?

They sent fake letters to computer magazines demoting (defending and promoting, ahem) Microsoft, spammed USENET with MS-biased ravings and created a band of fake grassroots supporters who travelled the country.

Remember when I said that many of these non-MS supporters were cynical?

Ever noticed how very few people praise MS overtly on the Internet?

When taking those two things into account, it was obvious that this would not just backfire, this would immediately detonate a nuclear device of severe megatonnage under Bill's feet and then burn the ashes. When USENET logs were checked, it was found that all of the people who praised MS were (not coincidentally) within the microsoft.com domain and were being paid. Nowadays, this is called "astroturfing", due to it involving artificial grassroots, geddit?

Needless to say, this act of idiocy pissed off many people and incited many states to join the Antitrust battle against Microsoft.

See also So you've decided to become a public relations officer...

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