Thursday, July 19, 2012

Greenpeace Shell Out

Disclosure - I used to be a member (inactive) of Greenpeace for a bit in my student days.

Whatever your views on oil companies, in this case Shell, and oil exploration; I find it disappointing that an organisation with the history and support of Greenpeace has had to resort to lying to people in order to put a point across.

If you haven't seen, Greenpeace produced a realistic but fake Shell site, with fake videos, posters and user generated content. They then responded to that using a fake Shell PR account, deliberately designed to make the company look foolish.

Clever yes, but is it right?

As an organisation founded on a moral standpoint, Greenpeace for me must be extremely careful how it puts itself across. If you are activists then you sometimes have to take direct action in a way that not everyone will approve of, but to outright deceive the public in this way? It just seems wrong.

It seems like the action of a group that doesn't have the facts on their side, that doesn't have the conviction to make a real statement. Relying on lies and bluffery to trick people who they should be winning over.

I don't know enough about arctic drilling to take a clear stand, but in producing so many lies, I now don't know what are the facts and what are lies. I find it more difficult to accept the negative comments and arguments against the oil companies purely because I don't know if I can totally trust what Greenpeace say anymore.

Maybe you could argue that in order to make a change that they truly believe is necessary, they have to do things that are perhaps morally ambiguous or wrong, but as much as it has created a fuss, once you know the campaign is a lie, it makes me feel negative towards Greenpeace. They have focused on short term awareness and publicity over the long term support of their organisation and goals.

By all means tell us what is happening, what can be done, and how we can do it, but do not lie to us. If you lie, how are you any better than the companies you claim are misleading us? Deception of this kind does not help create action, it puts people off acting at all. Imagine how many more people would engage with politics if they thought that politicians only told the truth.

Lies and deception are wrong, even if used for what you believe are right reasons. That's Tony Blair territory, and no brand wants to be there.

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