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Does Monsanto Hire Internet Trolls?

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does-monsanto-hire-internet-trollsIn the last several months, it has been revealed that Monsanto has a strategy for dealing with its online reputation. The strategy involves paying people to say positive things about Monsanto, defend Monsanto, and take issue with anyone who might be attacking Monsanto. Monsanto is just one company to be caught doing this.

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An employee of the company inadvertently admitted to the practice some months ago, and in the meantime, no major Monsanto force has come forward to deny the claims. This means that Monsanto has Internet trolls who stalk doctors and anyone who might come out against Monsanto and they troll them. On anything, to discredit them, not just on the things that affect Monsanto.

Other companies have been caught paying trolls and bloggers to go online and defend their image. It is unknown whether such tactics have had an overwhelmingly positive or negative impact on the reach of the brands who’ve employed them.

What is known is that a quick search of the job boards will yield several positions that relate to brand management online. These positions could very well be about trolling against negativity toward a brand or company. If it were so, and if it weren’t apparent, it could potentially be illegal down the line if not already.

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Companies operating in today’s climate have totally new realities to deal with, such as forums that discuss their behavior and worthiness. To compete in these new conditions, companies must find ways to keep customers happy at a whole new level.

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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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41 Comments

  1. stuart21

    August 6, 2015 at 1:14 am

    P.H., fair bet they do – but most obvious with fossil fuel cos and AGW deniers. Could suggest a few possible candidates! Usually their arguments are so ridiculous – amounting to ‘it’s not worth saving the planet if somebody might lose their job’
    If the social media required signups including a Skype video introduction (recorded for ‘posterity’) that might make them slightly more responsible for what they say – considering that in Europe that industry has just been successfully sued for environmental damage.

  2. el rebelde

    August 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    good trolls need to be really smart, otherwise they are outed really quickly as paid shills.
    It’s common knownedlge that big electronics/cellphone companies also employ trolls and shills…it’s a shame

    • Your1Friend

      September 4, 2015 at 5:25 am

      If companies were actually run by intelligent people of integrity—not merely clever people, skilled at manipulating the system to get blood money into their own pockets—they wouldn’t need PR firms, shills, trolls, paid liars.

  3. Eric Bjerregaard

    August 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Stupid article and one that without proof should never have been written. Especially bad is the speculation that hiring trolls could be illegal. The first amendment still commands a little respect.

    • nick quinlan

      September 30, 2015 at 2:15 am

      Don’t worry, what you and the other trolls do, is not illegal. Just unethical

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        September 30, 2015 at 3:22 am

        I don’t worry Nicki. Telling the truth for free is a public service.

        • Tony Storey

          August 13, 2016 at 10:16 pm

          some truth comes with more incentives than others eh Eric?

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 13, 2016 at 11:37 pm

            Not that I know of, oh foolish user of the shill gambit.

          • Tony Storey

            August 13, 2016 at 11:44 pm

            personal attacks are a common thread in your arsenal that i have seen.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 12:01 am

            Yep, shill gambit users deserve personal attacks and get no respect.

  4. Justin Couron

    August 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    In regards to this article with no sources, links, or evidence. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Maybe comeback when you have written an article of substance.

  5. Doug Ducat

    August 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    The
    OP claims that “an employee of the company inadvertently admitted to
    the practice some months ago” of “paying people to say positive things
    about Monsanto, defend Monsanto, and take issue with anyone who might be
    attacking Monsanto.”

    The citation they use for this is the following second hand account:

    “Dr.
    Moar, perhaps forgetting that this was a public event, then revealed
    that Monsanto indeed had “an entire department” (waving his arm for
    emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs.”

    To which the observer concluded:

    “As
    far as I know this is the first time that a Monsanto functionary has
    publicly admitted that they have such an entity which brings their
    immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to
    publish against them.”

    Well,
    this just speaks for itself. You can’t assume his statement meant
    anything of the sort concluded by the author. In fact, I would say
    placing the operative, “debunk”, in there Dr. Moar is talking
    specifically about poor quality “science”… which by extension would
    mean that it would disagree with theirs, since they stand behind the
    quality of their science. While I agree the statement was somewhat
    ambiguous making it an easy target for anti-GMO activists to pretend he
    meant something he didn’t… you also can’t forget that the second hand
    account of what was said came from a live, real-time spoken
    statement…. which is easy to mishear, misinterpret, and misrepresent
    when repeated.

    My conclusion based on what has been presented:

    Not guilty.

  6. Your1Friend

    September 4, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I think you have provided confirmation for the article above!

    And precisely what is a “flying yoga instructor?”
    And precisely how does being a “flying yoga instructor” (whatever that may mean) necessarily discredit him?
    (Yes, we are perfectly aware that you are speaking of Jeffrey Smith).

    Also, do you presume to know more than that MIT professor?
    If so, why don’t you debate her on national television?

  7. Your1Friend

    September 4, 2015 at 5:22 am

    I think you are quite right. But I am sure that the person suffers from SDS “Shill Denial Syndrome.”

  8. Barely_Jay

    September 5, 2015 at 3:30 am

    Please do us all a favor and go poison yourself on dihydrogen monoxide, Conspiracy Troll.

  9. Sebastian Larsen

    September 5, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I think the only evidence I have seen for paid shilling online is done by the Steiner cult. You know, those people behind homeopathy and biodynamic ‘farming’. http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/07/the-insidious-pervasiveness-of-the-cult-of-rudolf-steiner.html

  10. Jakob Milhelm

    April 3, 2016 at 1:22 am

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      August 13, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Those aren’t sources. They are wack job sites. Sources are court records. videos of cash changing hands. Wire funds transfers or banking records.

      • Tony Storey

        August 13, 2016 at 11:52 pm

        Do you video the cash you receive from spewing your poison across the web? Criminals dont use fund transfers or use banks. Dont be silly.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          August 13, 2016 at 11:59 pm

          OK, I see now. You are a high school kid that knows nothing about money laundering and why they made laws with unconstitutional reporting requirements to stop it. Those laws apply to banking. besides that accepting money to post stuff on the internet wouldn’t be criminal. So, more of your ignorance is exposed.

  11. tinyhawks

    April 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Just label it.

  12. Eric Bjerregaard

    August 9, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Well that little evidence free bit of nonsense may well explain why the shill gambit is so popular among the brain damaged.

  13. Tony Storey

    August 13, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Just been doin some research on Monsanto and Eric Bjerregaards name is coming up on most forums.. even in New Zealand two days ago. No surprises,, hes very pro Monsanto. He must be passionate about this chemical manufacturer or on the payroll.Or both.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      August 13, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Nope I am pro the use of safe products and against dishonest fear mongering. So, I oppose you.

      • Tony Storey

        August 13, 2016 at 11:46 pm

        yep seen that line from you several times in various posts..from a template of replies. Got any original material? Or do you have to get that approved first?

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          August 13, 2016 at 11:56 pm

          Well, as your only argument appears to be the foolish shill gambit/ And as I oppose those who use such nonsense. I oppose you. All my stuff is original. That is why I can belittle you with no consequences.

          • Tony Storey

            August 14, 2016 at 12:16 am

            so how much do you receive for posting? Does it pay more than growing pineapples? You dont see any ethical issues with supporting biotech companies on a public forum in a vain attempt to sway opinion. But i guess it is effective in some regard as most sensible people want to gain knowledge in this subject not get involved in an ego-off with you. You shut discussions down. . Its a great ploy and you probably feel very superior which is an added bonus. I just dont understand how you can span so many forums across the world. The time and effort involved just to prove the safety of a product.? If your not on the payroll you have a very good case to be.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 12:31 am

            I receive nothing but the knowledge that I am opposing ignorance. I also have a full time job. “vain attempt?” nope. The truth will win pout in this little war. .. Attrition will take its’ toll and you will lose. Especially when biofortified crops become more common place. Please take your case for paying me to one of the biotech companies. I could use the money. Here is an example of what is coming, and another reason I post. I have posted a second time as the first response is being held up by censors. Likely because I linked to information about disease resistant bananas being developed in Uganda, and another link. Cites like this often oppose posting actual science.

          • Tony Storey

            August 14, 2016 at 12:41 am

            how bout give humanity a break and stick to your day job and let people discuss other ‘sciences’ that dont corroborate with your science paradigm. Science is fluid and constantly being questioned, not fixed. Peoples concerns are valid despite your dismissive claims. If a product was ‘safe’ as you claim you wouldnt need to run to its defense. The science that backs it is flimsy and biased. As we are slowly finding out.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 1:08 am

            Concerns are not valid unless backed by facts. The consensus is clear. The products are safe and you and your tribe throwing mud are the reasons for the defense. Mud must be cleaned up even when thrown by vandals.

          • Tony Storey

            August 14, 2016 at 1:55 am

            Monsanto must be absolutely in stitches laughing at the fact that your so vehemently supporting their products and buying their science without even paying you a single cent. They may even name a product after you if you play your cards right. Doing gods work Eric. Good little robot.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 2:17 am

            I doubt the folks at monsanto even know I exist. It’s not just their products. There are many others as well.

          • Tony Storey

            August 14, 2016 at 4:49 am

            So theres more companies with liitle or no integrity you come to the defense of. Do tell…Where does your affection lie?

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 12:44 pm

            You are making an assumption about moral issues and still have posted no evidence. This continues to show your basic dishonesty. My affection lies with your enemies.

          • Tony Storey

            August 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm

            enemies? give me a break

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            August 14, 2016 at 10:52 pm

            No, I will not. I’m sick and tired of guys like you trying to harm progress especially in These areas. Cassava disease resistant and biofortified, and Ugandan bananas both disease resistant and biofortified. I scrolled up and checked. The idiotic censor deleted my comment with the links to research papers. So, I can’t post more. So, look em up. When you oppose safe technology. You also harm small scale farmers in areas that need the new crops. Thus you make enemies.

          • Tony Storey

            August 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

            if harming progress means raising serious health concerns, then yes , i will till the end of time, long after your GM fruit has mutated into a non food full of harmful chemicals, just to keep it growing. Stupid humans

          • Tomas Moravec

            August 15, 2016 at 11:06 pm

            So why is GM fruit more likely to mutate into non food full of harmfull chemicals than non-GM fruit? Organic or conventional?

          • hyperzombie

            August 14, 2016 at 11:41 pm

            Does it pay more than growing pineapples
            I would think that everything pays better than growing pineapples, they are very tough to grow and take about 18 months to mature. They can only be grown in certain soils and are crazy labour intensive.

            Why would there be any ethical issues with supporting bio-tech or any technology? Or are you one of the folks that believes that everyone needs technology, except for farmers? Are you anti tech in any other field?
            “Darm Elementary Particle Physicists, don’t need those atom smashers, it is so unnatural. They should smash atoms the old fashioned way, with a hammer”

            “People don’t need the internet when we have smoke signals and cups and string. ”

            I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that Agriculture is the only field that you believe should be free from modern technology.

          • Tony Storey

            August 15, 2016 at 3:32 am

            nice argument you had going all by yourself. i feel like i would be intruding if i commented

      • Tony Storey

        August 13, 2016 at 11:49 pm

        how can you oppose me?, you dont even know my stand on the issue. The ego loves an enemy so i see where your coming from.

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Business

Netflix Shares Surge After Hours amid Record Growth in Subscriptions

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Netlix Inc. (NFLX) has proved it can raise prices and still attract a record number of new users. The Los Gatos, California-based streaming service added 7.41 million customers in the first quarter, smashing analysts’ forecasts by about 1.7 million.

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Netflix Earnings

In addition to adding a record number of subscribers, Netflix posted per-share earnings of 64 cents on revenue of $3.7 billion. Analysts in a consensus estimate called for earnings of 64 cents per share on sales of $3.69 billion.

International streaming dominated subscription growth with a net gain of 5.46 million new users. Europe and Latin America were largely responsible for the better than expected growth. U.S. additions totaled 1.96 million.

Netflix succeeded in adding new subscribers even as it hiked the price of its streaming service, a sign the company was delivering desirable content. In addition tot he 700 titles planned for release this year, the company is investing billions into original content. Moving to in-house production will allow Netflix to save money by avoiding hefty markups charged by rival studios.

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After falling 1.2% on Monday, share prices spiked 5.2% in after-hours trading. At $323.70 per share, the company should surpass $140 billion in market cap at the start of trading on Tuesday. That’s a 600% increase since 2014.

Share prices are recovering after a difficult stretch for so-called FAANG stocks, an abbreviation that represents Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet. FAANG investments lost more than $320 billion over a three-week stretch ending Apr. 2.

At the close:

Dominance of Over-the-Top Content

Netfix has established a dominant position in the market for over-the-top content, or OTT, which generally refers to internet-based streaming services. Cord cutters in the U.S. market alone topped 22 million between 2016 and 2017, bringing the total number of consumers without pay TV to about 57 million.

High-speed internet is not only disrupting traditional media, it is destroying it. This extends far beyond the entertainment segment to also include broadcast news and other mainstream media outlets.

OTT content could be worth $62 billion by 2020, putting companies like Netflix at the top of the heap for investors looking for promising plays during the tail end of the bull market.

The success of Netflix has spawned several paid and free alternatives, including emerging juggernauts like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Sling TV. Traditional media companies like HBO have also adopted the subscription streaming model.

As cord-cutting continues, price elasticity of demand could grow for streaming services. In other words, companies can charge more for their service without fear of lost revenue. That was certainly the case with Netflix during the past quarter.

 

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4.5 stars on average, based on 353 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Revolut: Apps For Cryptocurrencies

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For the last few months, it seems like we have been transfixed in the collapse of crypto prices, trying to figure out what is going to cause the next move up.  The answer is not easy to find. So I thought it might be an interesting change of pace to look at a fintech company that is participating in the crypto movement but has a few other cool things going as well.

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This may not fatten your investment account immediately but it should take your mind off bitcoin for a few minutes.  After that, who knows.

Big Valuation

Revolut is a UK based payments company in business since July 2015.  Last summer Revolut founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko raised over $66 million in VC funding and another $23 million from crowdfunding.  Yes, the Crypto buzz had something to do with their success. But there is quite a bit more.

Storonsky must be pretty good with a pitch deck considering the implied $200-$400 million valuation of the company.  He and his partner have deep experience in the global payments business. Nikolay spent years as a currency trader with Credit Suisse so he understands the absurd level of fees charged by the current system.

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The technical wizardry, however, rests with his partner Yatsenko. Vlad spent over ten years building financial systems for major Wall Street investment banks.  He serves as the company’s CTO.

Crypto Link: An Interesting Approach

According to company literature, the Revolut app allows customers to open a current account in under a minute, and includes a prepaid contactless MasterCard debit card.  So far there is nothing unusual about Revolut. But wait, there’s more.

The firm launched personal international bank account numbers (IBANs) across Europe just recently, and plans to integrate virtual currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin in the future.  This includes plans to add a wealth of new services in the coming months from the integration of cryptocurrency to pay-as-you-go travel insurance at the tap of a button.

Even before this gets accomplished, Revolut offers a currency exchange with 25 different currencies and a peer-to-peer payments service.  As Storonsky tells his story, “ . . . what we are demonstrating goes beyond banking.”

The one question investors are raising is how all these wonderful free services will be monetized.  An announcement this week should provide at least some answers.

CNP Fraud Prevention

Revolut has a new product aimed at tackling online card fraud. The mobile-only bank unveiled a virtual card that wipes a user’s card details and introduces new details each time they make a payment.

When people make an online payment, they enter card details and most often online retailers hold onto the data. This is where fraudsters have a field day.

In the trade it is known as Card Not Present (CNP) fraud.  As online shopping has increased steadily, CNP fraud has risen exponentially – something like 50% annually.

What happens is, every time you make a transaction, Revolut software deletes the card details so it’s impossible to make any transaction after that.  Just in case you were wondering, all the data remains in the browser of the customer. So the quality of customer service is not sacrificed.

Full Disclosure  

Revolut is not your typical ICO (i.e., all whitepaper and no product).  It is not fueled by any cryptocurrency or token. I first came across Revolut following their VC round last year and was impressed with the valuation, background of the founders and the business model.  I have no vested interest in the company. Someday the VC will want to cash out most likely through an IPO. So Revolut is a name you will want to keep track of.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 64 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Overstock.com Plunges on New Share Offering as the Shift to Crypto Continues

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Overstock.com (OSTK), the parent company behind the tZero ICO, plunged on Tuesday after the e-commerce giant announced 4 million in new share offerings. The stock is down a staggering 41% this year, a microcosm of the so-called crypto proxy stocks which have failed to deliver in light of the recent market downturn.

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Overstock Down Double Digits

The value of OSTK plunged 15% on Tuesday to close at $37.93. The decline accelerated in after-hours trading, with prices falling another 1.1%, according to data provided by The Wall Street Journal.

With the decline, Overstock has entered oversold territory on the Relative Strength Index (RSI). Although this implies that a short-term recovery is in play, price action remains extremely weak, with the 2o-day and 50-day simple moving averages trending firmly lower.

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The company is listed on the technology-heavy Nasdaq, which plunged nearly 3% on Tuesday.

Overstock announced at the beginning of the week that it will issue 4 million shares of new common stock. The company’s underwriter, Guggenheim Securities, also has the option to add 600,000 units to the new issue. As of Tuesday’s closing price, the new offering would amass $151.7 million, down nearly $27 million from when the announcement was made on Monday.

The Shift to Crypto Continues

Overstock is attempting to make a bigger push into the blockchain arena, but has struggled to find a suitable buyer for its retail business. Expectations of a swift sale of its retail operations led some analysts to boost their target price for OSTK stock to as high as $100 last November. Share values have since dwindled to about a third of those levels.

The multi-billion-dollar retailer surged into the spotlight last year after releasing details of its cryptocurrency platform tZero. The exchange, which has already secured $100 million via private offering, says it will bring distributed ledger technology to the capital markets.

Overstock was one of many cryptocurrency plays to receive a formal inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Commodities Exchange (SEC) as part of a wider investigation into ICOs. The details of the inquiry were included in a Dec. 18 SEC filing that was subsequently released in early March.

Unlike more conventional ICOs, the tZero project is issuing tokens via the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) model.

Overstock’s chief executive Patrick Byrne has disclosed other crypto-related ventures at his firm, including a 60 million-unit holding of Revencoin, the digital peer-to-peer network for asset transfers. The cryptocurrency, which trades under the symbol RVN, surged 84% on Tuesday, according to data provided by CoinMarketCap. There are more than 715 million units of the coin already in circulation, bringing the total market cap to $52.1 million.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 353 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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