Are pro-fracking online comments coming from paid shills? IP address search returns interesting results by David Accomazzo, December 16, 2013, Bolder Weekly
Here at Boulder Weekly, we welcome robust discussion of our stories. We hope that whenever we tackle an issue in an article, those with opinions from all sides of the political spectrum can come to the comments section of our website and find a robust and respectful discussion. We are so open-minded that we even welcome comments from paid employees of some of the people we write about. A reader, James, engaged in a back-and-forth with some pro-fracking commenters on a recent Boulder Weekly column written by Paul Danish. He then wrote a comment challenging us to do some “investigative journalism” on the identities of his debate opponents, since he suspected they were on the payroll of the oil and gas industry.
Well, we looked into it. And James just might be onto something. We entered IP addresses of some pro-fracking commenters on our website into a WHOIS database and were able to track two commenters to two separate IP addresses registered to Noble Energy and one commenter to an IP address registered to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with oil and gas employees expressing their pro-fracking opinions on our website. Still, it’s pretty interesting to note that the majority of pro-fracking comments on one article on our website came from two major oil and gas companies.
Online comment boards and discussion groups are increasingly becoming targets for PR firms, corporations and possibly even the government. Can we add oil and gas companies to the list? Perhaps. We’ll keep an eye on it. [Emphasis added]