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The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped

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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 06:59 AM
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The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped
Edited on Mon Jul-16-07 07:00 AM by acmavm
By BRAD STONE and MATT RICHTEL
Published: July 16, 2007

<snip>

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 — On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog — or the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.

Or so thought John Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods Market, who used a fictional identity on the Yahoo message boards for nearly eight years to assail competition and promote his supermarket chain’s stock, according to documents released last week by the Federal Trade Commission.

Mr. Mackey used the online handle “Rahodeb” (an anagram of his wife’s name, Deborah). In one Internet posting sure to enter the annals of chief-executive vanity, Mr. Mackey wrote as Rahodeb, “I like Mackey’s haircut. I think he looks cute!”

With all a chief executive has to do, the 14-hour days spent barking orders, digesting reports, motivating employees and courting Wall Street, why would they spend their time sparring with anonymous critics online? And what makes them think they won’t be revealed?

<snip>


Other chief executives have found their sock puppetry coming back to haunt them. At the criminal fraud trial of Hollinger International’s chief executive, Conrad M. Black, prosecutors introduced evidence that the former press baron had once proposed joining a Yahoo Finance chat room to blame short sellers for his company’s stock performance.

When his chief of investor relations declined to post the message because of securities rules, Mr. Black wrote in an e-mail message, “don’t be so strait-laced ... Get our story out.” Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Black then posted the message himself, using the name “nspector.”

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