Petrol outfit BP has been accused of hiring internet “trolls” to attack and threaten people who do not like the way the outfit has handled the spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
After the single largest environmental disaster in US history, BP hired PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run a BP America Facebook page.
The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted anti-BP comments it was noticed that they were attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened.
An anonymous poster called “Marie” has produced boxes of documents and well-researched information that she thinks shows that the people harassing BP’s critics online worked for BP or Ogilvy.
She has passed these documents on to the body investigating the disaster, GAP. GAP investigator Shanna Devine told Al Jazeera the documentation of more serious threats made on the BP page was clear enough to start an investigation of its own.
Threats began on the FB page, but then escalated offline. Threats included identifying where somebody lived, an internet troll referring to having a shotgun and making use of it.
Marie provided the firm and Al Jazeera with files of complaint letters, computer screenshots of the abuse, and a list of Facebook profiles used by the people who harassed her and others.
The attacks were racist, sexist, and threatened posters with legal action and violence. They’ve insinuated that some commenters are ‘child molesters’. The goal was to get those posting negative comments to leave facebook.
One one troll used the name “Griffin” and makes several allusions to gun violence. In one case “Griffin” threatened to shoot an environmentalist with his .50 calibre gun. Another, named “Ken Smith” edited a photo of a BP critic’s pet bird into the crosshairs of a gunsight.