Wikipedia blocks hundreds of promotional ‘sockpuppet’ user accounts

Wikipedia: Black Hat

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind omnipresent online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has revealed that almost 400 user accounts have been blocked by volunteer editors.

The accounts in question relate to “undisclosed paid advocacy” — people who were paid to promote a certain agenda in Wikipedia articles. In addition to removing 381 accounts, editors also ditched 210 articles created from scratch by these accounts.

It can be difficult to pinpoint when an article has been created by so-called “sockpuppets,” but by looking at edits made across a number of articles, it’s possible to identify patterns and make some assertions.

“Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations,” Wikimedia said in a blog post. “The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.”

Wikimedia’s terms of use specifically prohibit:

…engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. As part of these obligations, you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation.

However, it’s worth noting here that not all paid editing contravenes Wikipedia rules — some PR firms have signed an agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation that assert they will adhere to the paid-editing guidelines, while other public organizations such as universities have employees that update information on the encyclopedia. Disclosure is key.

Wikipedia has a long history of black-hat editing, dating back to its beginnings. Perhaps the most high-profile case in recent times came back in 2013, when the Wikimedia Foundation sent a cease-and-desist to Wiki-PR, an agency set up specifically for paid edits. Around 300 accounts were shuttered as a result of that case.

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On-demand Alcohol Delivery Startup Saucey Drinks To $4.5 Million In Seed Funding

Saucey Los Angeles-based on-demand alcohol startup Saucey has delivered good times in a bottle since 2013 but held off raising VC funding till now. The service just pulled in $4.5 million in seed money to make its platform more efficient. Saucey origins begin with three buddies who worked together and liked to imbibe after a long day. Founders Chris Vaughn, Daniel Leeb and Andrew Zeck were… Read More

New Venture Capital Firm Announces Market-Focused Investment Strategy, Portfolio and First Fund

San Francisco-based venture capital firm Cloud Apps Capital Partners today announced its market-focused investment strategy targeting early-stage companies in the cloud business applications sector, and its first fund. Founded by former executive and venture capitalist Matt Holleran, the firm takes an innovative approach to supporting early-stage companies.

White House hires Facebooker Josh Miller as its first digital product director

The Facebook logo is pictured at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California January 29, 2013.

Days ago Branch cofounder Josh Miller left Facebook with little explanation. Now we know what he’s doing next.

The young founder revealed on his personal blog today that he’s immediately starting a new role a the White House’s first Director of Product. There, Miller explains that he hopes to expand the White House’s existing digital “portfolio,” which so far includes its website and the the “We the People” petition service.

Now, I’m moving on to something new while also returning to an old problem that means a lot to me. Today, I start in a new role at the White House serving as their first Director of Product. I’m as giddy, wide-eyed, and determined as ever. The White House has many digital products – from to the We the People Petition site. It’s a dream to be able to add to and improve this portfolio.

In order to do that, my plan is to lean on the product ideals that I learned during the last four years building Branch and working at Facebook. Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you? The Obama Administration has already responded to 255 online petitions that had collectively gathered more than 11 million signatures. Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks? White House officials have started to regularly host Q&As on Twitter. These initiatives represent amazing progress, and there’s so much more good work to be done. I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in the technology industry to the ideals of our democracy. As a mentor of mine likes to say, “It’s gonna be great!”

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Amazon Prime Instant Video Now Lets iOS And Android Owners Download Titles For Offline Viewing

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 10.37.25 AM Amazon took a big step today to differentiate its Prime Instant Video service from rival Netflix: it’s becoming the first subscription-based video streaming service to make its content available for offline viewing on iOS and Android devices. Previously, the company allowed Amazon Fire tablet customers to download videos, but that didn’t address its sizable customer base who… Read More

How savvy B2B marketers are killing it at lead gen (webinar)

lead generation

Join us for this live webinar on Thursday, September 10 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. Register here for free

The face-to-face B2B sales process of the past — the many phone calls, the gratuitous lunches, the exhausting trade shows, followed by more phone calls — has been transformed by the digital landscape. The number of touchpoints and opportunities that now exist to intercept prospects and turn them into viable leads is unprecedented.

That doesn’t mean lead generation has become easy. It takes a healthy mix of art and science to succeed in a hyper-competitive, crowded space. And it takes a well-honed knowledge of all the available channels and how they can compliment one another.

That’s because there’s no one silver bullet for lead generation. If you think email alone is going to give you the results you’re looking for, or an aggressive adword campaign, you’ll be overlooking many of the tactics that successful B2B marketers bring together to turn the top of the funnel into leads that convert.

Email, search marketing, display ads, webinars, social campaigns, content marketing and syndication, on-demand events, blogs — not to mention strategic use of your own website — are all elements that need to be considered.

Of course, that list, which is not exhaustive, can be exhausting. In this webinar, we’ll look at the kinds of tools marketers need to ease the process, and ways to test and scale that make it all manageable — and ultimately get you the ideal mix of lead gen tactics for your business.

Join our panel of expert B2B marketers who will share insights and best practices that can heat up your lead gen game.

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Under-the-radar B2B ad channels including technology reviews sites and content syndication
  • How to make the most of search, display, and paid social media campaigns for B2B audiences
  • Low-risk ways to test new lead gen tactics before scaling your spending


Nick Bhutani, Senior Digital & Acquisition Marketing Manager, Booker
Rochelle Sanchirico, VP of Marketing, mHelpDesk
Jamaal Saunders, Senior Marketing Analyst, Salesforce


This webinar is sponsored by Capterra

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Nextbit unveils $400 cloud-first Robin phone

Robin - HeroShot - 3000x3000

San Francisco-based Nextbit Tuesday took the wraps off its new “cloud first” Android phone, called Robin. The $400 Android (5.1.1) device is tall and squarish (in a good way), and comes in striking light blue and black colors.

The real hook here is that the phone is tightly integrated with an unlimited cloud storage facility that can be used to quickly offload apps, photos, and other content from the phone when space is needed. The idea is that the user will never see a notification saying that he or she has run out of room, Nextbit cofounder Tom Moss said during a briefing last week.

Robin in car

“Nextbit has created the only cloud-first, design-forward smartphone for anyone who wants to be freed from the limits of today’s mobile technology,” the company said in a statement today.

Nextbit said the software brains behind the backup system are smart enough to know what content to move off the phone and into storage. For instance, it might move apps or photos that have not been used or viewed in a long time. An app thats been offloaded will show a grayed-out icon on the phone. Content can quickly be called back to the phone from the cloud when needed.

Robin backs up apps and photos when it’s connected to power and Wi-Fi. These are the default settings to conserve power and data, but they can be adjusted to be less restrictive, Nextbit said.

Robin - Midnight - 1000x1000

Pedigreed founders

Another reason for caring about Robin is that Nextbit is founded by a couple of guys — CEO Tom Moss and CTO Mike Chan — who worked at Google on the Android team. Product lead Scott Croyle worked at HTC. They’re pedigreed. Nextbit’s vision was good enough to attract $18 million in funding from Google Ventures and Accel Partners.

Nextbit launched in 2012 and started out by creating a syncing software called Baton. The software automatically backed up and synced apps and data to the cloud, and made files or application states immediately available on other registered devices. So users could continue doing on one device what they’d started on another. That technology was obviously brought to bear in the new device.


In order to manage inventory requirements, Nextbit is making Robin available only via Kickstarter to start with. The phone is available now. The campaign will run for 30 days with a goal of $500,000, although the real point of the campaign is to create a manageable distribution channel. The first 1,000 Kickstarter backers can buy a Robin for $299, while all others will get a price of $349. When Robin is available in general retail in Q1 2016, it will cost $399.

Key specs

  • Processor: Snapdragon 808
  • Storage: 32GB/100GB offline/online
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Battery: 2680 mAh
  • Screen: 5.2” 1080p IPS
  • SIM slots: 1 nano
  • Networks: 3G HSPA+ 850/900/1800/1900/2100, LTE (class 4) 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/28, Wi-Fi A/B/G/N/AC, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC
  • Fingerprint sensor: On power key
  • Rear camera: 13MP Phase detection, autofocus + dual tone flash
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Sound: Dual speakers, each with own amplifier
  • USB 3.0 Type C connector
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