Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 23, 2007

Working Families for Wal-Mart May Be Dying

Working Families for Wal-Mart May Be Dying
Wal-Mart has a lamentable record when it comes to running Web sites; its phony Walmarting Across America site, launched after consulting with PR giant Edelman, was shut down last October after its sponsorship became public, creating a huge PR scandal. And while everybody knows that Wal-Mart pays the bills at Working Families for Wal-Mart, at the domain, the site doesn't even mention this in its About section, leading to an obviously inevitable question: "What is Wal-Mart trying to hide?"

Oddly, the Working Families for Walmart site looks as if it's been languishing for the past few months. Its News Center section was last updated in February: that's five months ago. Its Featured Stories section is also showing its age, no stories have been uploaded since February of 2007. Interestingly, another Wal-Mart-funded site, ("Exposing the Paid Critics of Wal-Mart") was last updated in March. That's a lot of bitrot for any multi-billion dollar retailing giant to tolerate.

Could it be that Wal-Mart has abandoned its habitual Sock Puppeting/AstroTurfing strategy of launching phony sites to influence public perceptions? Let's hope so: this kind of thing represents the worst kind of corporate behavior in cyberspace, and undermines whatever trust users might otherwise have in the company.

If Wal-Mart wants to rebuild its online reputation, it needs to take steps in the direction of transparency and accountability, pledge that it will not engage in deceptive practices online, and relegate sites such as Working Families for Walmart to the dustbin. (Note: I am neither a paid critic of Wal-Mart nor in the pay of Wal-Mart.)

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In the Sprit of Netslaves: Don't Complain, Says Newsweek: Drive a Truck!

I'm really sorry that Steve Gilliard isn't around to skewer the clueless editors who ran a story on praising the fact that more Americans over 50, facing a cruel job market, are now driving trucks.

Sure, driving a truck is surely better than being completely unemployed, but packaging what's clearly a desperate act as a savvy career move is insane. "Despite the grueling hours and physical demands, it can be a win-win situation," writes Newsweek, without speaking to a single old-timer willing to characterize his downward economic mobility as anything but a wonderful thing. Newsweek obviously only spoke to a couple of drivers in its story, and naturally, they didn't want to say they felt like failures.

The real story, however, the fact that trained, educated, downsized people over 50 are failing in ever-greater numbers, being humiliatingly reduced to blue-collar labor status, will remain for some other publication to find.

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