BP has allegedly been hiring internet “trolls,” disruptive site visitors who purposely attack and provoke users wanting to have honest and thoughtful interaction, to attack environmentalists, scientists, and critics of BP of America (BAP). An anonymous whistleblower with the Government Accountability Office in Washington D.C. has come forth with information that points to BP and Ogilvy, its PR firm, for paying people to harass Facebook users.
Ogilvy & Mather, the New York City-based, international PR firm, has been handling the BPA Facebook page since the 2010 oil spill disaster.
The whistleblower, Marie (she wishes to keep her identity hidden), compiled a file of complaint letters from harassees, computer screenshots of the abuse, and a list of profiles used by those who harassed BP critics.
“They definitely have come after me,” said Marie. “I’ve been threatened, which is one reason why I try to keep my identity anonymous. I’ve kept it anonymous through the Government Accountability Project inquiry. But a lot of people have been threatened, it’s not just me.”
Those who imposed opposing opinions on the BPA Facebook page were met with harsh opposition from BP trolls. This occurs despite the claim that BP wants its Facebook page to be an open forum, respecting all viewpoints. If anyone opposed BP in any way, BP trolls insisted that Corexit is safe and became combative and abusive, said Marie. But the harassment didn’t stay on the BP page. BP trolls would follow users to their personal pages and continue harassment there.
The information that Marie gathered shows that the trolls resorted to very demeaning avenues of online abuse, from racist, sexist, and other demeaning forms of verbal abuse, as well as threatening users with legal action and violence.