So who’s behind #NoWitchHuntKarHut?


Update August 28: One of the buzzers involved in the campaign has admitted to being asked to Tweet, the client remains a mystery, and he has apologised for taking on the assignment here.  Unspun thinks it takes a big man to admit that they were wrong and to ask for forgiveness. Perhaps the Netizens should cut him some slack from now on.

Since my post some netizens have named the alleged digital agency and one of them have come up with a shitlist of all the buzzers involved. The company or alliance financing the campaign remains a mystery (at least to Unspun).

The original post:

The hashtag #NoWitchHuntKarHut (KarHut stands for Kebakaran Hutan or Forest Fire) began life on Twitter ostensibly on August 20, three days ago, by a buzzer. It sat there innocuously until this morning, when it seemingly caused a civil war among the Twitterati of Indonesia.

What was it about and why did it cause such a furore?

burning-13As far as can be pieced together the hashtag was a campaign initiated by a digital agency based in Jakarta. It gathered and paid some buzzers to use the hastag and get through the message that large corporations have been unfairly singled out when apportioning blame for forest fires. The unfairness resulted from the fact that smaller corporations were just as guilty for starting forest fires.

All sorts of buzzers were recruited, even those who normally would be more comfortable with lifestyle and consumer consumption than environment and public affairs. They were apparently told by the digital agency that the campaign was also an Indonesian reaction against Singapore that has been trying to assert pressure on Indonesia. Naively some of the buzzers swallowed that story, hook, line and sinker.

So when the buzzers got to work, a civil war, not unlike that in  Marvel comic that many of them are fond of,  broke out between them and the other buzzers who smelt something fishy about their fellow-buzzers suddenly taking up the cause of Big Palm Oil. Not being wall flowers, they spoke, or rather tweeted their minds, and soon there seemed to be a groundswell of sentiment against their fellow buzzers that had apparently sold out to land grubbing, environment-destroying, cynical large corporations.

The war  got so bad that one prominent buzzer was reported to have closed his account because of all the criticisms he was receiving.

Being curious about such things and having a suspicious mind Unspun thought that the usual large corporation suspects were behind the move so he checked with friends he had in their woodwork. They told him that they were flummoxed as anyone as to who was behind the campaign as they weren’t. These are friends, not the organisations, talking so Unspun tended to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So if it is not the usual suspects who could it be? Who was sophisticated enough to engineer a campaign ostensibly on behalf of the large corporations but in reality aimed to discredit them? And who else would have the kind of money to pay the digital agency to run the campaign and pay the buzzers? And why that peculiar hashtag #NoWitchHuntKarHut? It is a clumsily long hashtag. The use of the “no withch hunt” idiom suggests a Western mind or one brought up on western education (or an agency whose strategy is led by a Westerner).

One source, who corroborated on the identity of the agency, said he heard that an alliance of companies (that was not part of the usual suspects) was behind the funding of the campaign. But there was no more information. This deepens the mystery. Are there other players out there out there trying to discredit the established Big Boys? Who would gain from such a move, if true? Are we about to see a round of musical chairs in the Palm Oil industry? What is going on?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Karhut Freedom Fighter says:

    Isn’t two of your employees were part of this so called “buzzers”? People might suspect that this blog post is a smokescreen to distance yourself from this campaign.

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    1. unspun says:

      You are correct. Two of them were (in Maverick we allow buzzers to buzz in their private capacity, so long as it does not conflict with our clients or business). They were, however, the naive ones I mentioned in the post. When we found out we explained to them the implications of what they had done, that how we felt hat they had been used by vested interests nd that it had been unwise of them to tweet about issues that they do not normally involve themselves in. They agreed and were contrite.

      People might suspect (sounds like a Trumpian tactic to put the other side on the defensive by going on the offensive) a smokescreen, but the truth is that there is nothing to distance ourselves from as a corporation. We believe that the use of buzzers to try to shape a controversial issue such as this is a daft strategy (you might want to check the posting on the the Communicators Forum Indonesia in LinkedIn to see my posting there) in the first place. If companies want to change public opinion they need to communicate credibly and authentically to their audiences, instead of outsourcing it to buzzers. If you’re still dissatisfied with this explanation please drop by and I’ll explain it to you face-to-face. One more thing: it’s a bit difficult to erect smokescreens when you’re blogging under your own name. I notice that you are doing so under a pseudonym.

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