Fake Shell site crowdsourced ads raise awareness about Arctic drilling

Greenpeace is taking advantage of the ease of sharing on social media. This time it is Shell that is under fire for its plans to drill in the Arctic.

Spoof site, or headline grabbing awareness campaign?  Whatever it is, Shell and Greenpeace are fast becoming a Twitter trend today.

The bogus Arctic Ready web site, has been inviting crowdsourced headlines for its ‘Shell in the Arctic’ ‘campaign’.  The associated Twitter account @arcticready claims to be committed to clean and safe Arctic energy.

Contributors are invited to add captions to images of the Arctic.

Eileen Brown ZDNet Shell spoof
Credit: Arctic Ready

Captions added to the images appeared on the site:

Eileen Brown ZDNet shell spoof 2
Credit: Arctic Ready

The Twitter account, @ShellisPrepared created on 17th July 2012, has been responding to comments with seemingly automated responses such as:

  • We're glad you're excited by the campaign but please do not share offensive ads.
  • The site will be down for maintenance until we remove all offensive ads.
  • Our team is working overtime to remove inappropriate ads. Please stop sharing them.
  • Please don't share offensive ads. We're working to remove them.
  • Please, please, please stop sharing inflammatory ads
  • Our tech team is working to remove subversive ads.

The web site had not removed any of the 'offensive' images.  Tweets stopped at 11.30 PST –- bed time on te the west coast of Canada and with only 240 tweets, the account is still gaining momentum -- and followers.

Update at (01:15 a.m. PST): The Twitter account has now been suspended. 

The web site, and Twitter accounts do not belong to Shell.  A quick search on Whois for arcticready.com  shows that the site is registered to a P.O. Box in Vancouver, with contact details redirecting to a privacypost.com email address.

The web site also looks fake. The copy does not follow the style, tone and manner of the copy in the Shell web site.

Know your meme reckons it is:

A mock advertising campaign created by Greenpeace and The Yes Men in June 2012. The hoax consisted of an elaborately staged gaffe at a fake event arranged on behalf of Shell Oil Company, a mock website purported as the company’s social media hubsite and a fake press release alleging that Shell’s lawyers are considering legal actions against the involved parties.

Greenpeace activists shut down 74 petrol stations in London and Edinburgh on Mondayof this week in a protest against the company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Greenpeace are good at generating awareness using social channels. Nestle were in the news over a co-ordinated attack on Facebook a couple of years ago.

Greenpeace are taking advantage of the ease of social sharing. We share links, images and content without checking authenticity. We read updates from our trusted friends and by default we believe those links to be true and authentic.

Unfortunately, more and more of these memes are appearing. We could soon become jaded with more of the same old news regurgitated over and over again.

The very thing that Greenpeace is trying to do -– raise awareness of environmental issues -- is the same thing that will turn us away from a cause worth caring about -- if we are hoaxed too often.