Not Only Lies, But Whores

MOLI astroturfing

Shortly after posting my previous, less than flattering report on DEMO star and newly funded social network start-up, a visitor named Hawk5721 made the following, contrary comment:

MOLI is awesome. Exactly what grown ups and business have been waiting for. No kids spamming. The only thing i got when i signed up was a few friend request which is a good thing.

This was suspicious for a few reasons:

  • The comment was from a new commenter, and appeared very soon after posting.
  • I’m not that widely read on RSS, and such a prompt reply screams “Google alert for” way louder than “dedicated Sabrina fan.”
  • I don’t know, write for or cross paths with people with user names like Hawk5721. That is because this is not 1998 and I am not on AOL.

WordPress, my blog software, records the IP address of every poster. So I asked my other half to look up Hawk5721’s PI address of

You’ll never guess who is. Oh gwan. Guess.

Why, it’s our friends at! Yes, our friend Hawk works for Apparently that “signing up” thing he referenced was, in fact, signing his employment contract.

You know what blows my mind about this? You get $30M in funding, you get to be a DEMO wunderkind, you’re a start-up with great buzz, awesome momentum and a huge PR rush…

And the energies of one of your 55 employees is directed at fucking astroturfing?

Shouldn’t these people be out doing blow and drinking champagne off the breasts of nubile young lapdancers?

This is corporate suicide. It’s a PR nightmare when you get caught with your hand in this cookie jar. Astroturfing kills companies. It kills funding. Most importantly, it kills trust with your userbase. (You know, those people giving you their names, email address, postal addresses, and in the case of Moli, credit card details.)

Consequences for companies that engage in this kind of deciet are so dire that there’s an internet phrase for it:

“This will not end well givewell.”

That’s because founder Holden Karnofsky was removed from his position as Executive Director of GiveWell for doing the same thing after he got caught red-handed astroturfing at MetaFilter.

I hereby predict that will not givewell.

Enjoy the rest of DEMO, Moli.

Update | Hawk5721 is’s Director of Customer Service