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Shell hit with Twitter hoax, campaign spoof

By , Wednesday, July 18, 9:09 PM

With Shell under scrutiny following news that one of its drilling ships in Alaska’s Dutch Harborlost its mooring earlier this week, an old campaign spoofing the oil company has been reborn.The campaign skewers Shell’s “Let’s Go” ad campaign by adding captions such as “Birds are like sponges…for oil! Let’s Go,” to pictures of arctic wildlife and scenery.

Tweeting under the handle @ShellisPrepared, a group lampooning the oil giant is simultaneously directing people to that page — making it look like a user submission contest gone wrong — while telling visitors not to redistribute the link in the way that a real company would.

“We are maintaining a list of all retweeters and will fwd it to our legal team tomorrow,” the people behind the joke account wrote in just one of dozens of messages. “Please don’t share offensive ads. We’re working to remove them,” readsanother.

The ploy has tricked several people on Twitter into thinking that the account is really a part of Shell — after all, why would a joke account tell people not to retweet its tweets because of a potentially damaging spoof?

The page also links to a fake Web site that looks — in terms of layout — almost identical to the real shell.com. But a quick click around shows that most of the links don’t work. The fake site has headlines with jokes such as, “For hundreds of years, explorers have battled the Arctic. Today, we’re finally winning.”

Last month, the site was linked to a movement run by Greenpeace, the Yes Men and participants in the Occupy movement, Forbes reported, and the same people are thought to be behind the new Twitter account.

There was no answer at a phone number provided on the spoof site, which appears to be for an ad agency.

When asked for comment, Shell directed media to a previous statement it made in June about the hoax.

“Journalists, blog readers and YouTube viewers have recently been targeted with scams launched by organizations opposed to energy exploration in Alaska,” the company’s statement reads, referring to the fake photo caption contest and other actions from the group. “The advertising contest is not associated with Shell, and neither is the site it’s on. And Shell did not file legal action in this matter. Our focus is on safely executing our operations.”

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