Sleazy astroturf campaigns are nothing new in the corporate world but Verizon may have just taken things to a whole new level. Ars Technica reports that New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) recently received hundreds of identically worded emails from different people that all supported Verizon’s demands that it be let off the hook for building out broadband infrastructure that it had agreed to build as part of an agreement with the state that dates back to two decades ago. There’s a problem, however: Some of the people who supposedly sent emails to the board say they did no such thing.
“I am a customer only to Verizon and I was not contacted by them to submit anything,” one irate customer told Ars. “If they did, I would’ve slammed them. They are gougers. If AT&T was where I lived, I would switch in a heart beat.”
Both Ars and anti-bandwidth cap activist group Stop the Cap also found that some of the email addresses used for an online petition in support of Verizon’s initiative were invalid, which Stop the Cap says means that “we couldn’t be sure the authors were New Jersey residents, much less real people.”
When contacted by Ars about these findings, Verizon’s response is that other companies and organizations all do the same things.