By Anthony Bowe - Online Editorial Intern
A number of bloggers are alleging that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been using fake names to seed the Internet with supposedly independent defenses of the organization. The “offense” called “sock puppetry” by bloggers is among the most reviled tactics in the online spin wars.
The alleged sock puppetry has come in defense of HRW senior military analyst Marc Garlasco on several conservative blogs. Garlasco has been criticised for his hobby of collecting Second World War memorabilia, including Nazi medals. The fake commenters apparently appeared first on the Elder of Ziyon blog, where user name Dash K., wrote:
“…Instead of dragging this man’s name through the mud, perhaps it would be better to consider his record, his position at a leading Human Rights NGO (which, despite claims to the contrary, is not anti-Israel since they criticize Israeli and Palestinian tactics alike when either cross the line of legality), and the fact that he COLLECTS stuff.”
Five minutes later, a post by user Tom K. copy and pasted the HRW’s official press release defending Garlasco in the different thread. Using administrative access in which all blog publishers have, Elder of Ziyon tracked both IP address to an HRW computer.The Dash K. comment was repeated verbatim under user names “Sue”, “Sara” and “TheFuriousWombat” on the respective blogs Solomonia , Z-Word, and Israel Matzav. The evidence for sock-puppetry looked pretty solid, but looks can be deceiving, so The Washington Times decided to give Human Rights Watch the chance to defend itself. However, calls and emails since Friday have either been ignored or responses have dodged answering whether or not the sock puppetry happened. There was no response given about whether or not an overzealous employee was trying to help out a friend or if a deliberate public relations tactic was launched through the communications office.
The only response so far was an email Monday afternoon with links that do not address the issue of faked postings:
The Water Cooler will keep you updated if HRW decides to comment. In the meantime, it is hard to understand why the organization would remain silent if there was a good explanation.
“We addressed the accusations against Marc Garlasco by posting an official, public response on our website on Friday.” The Huffington Post also published an op-ed by Garlasco responding to the accusations:”