Shell, it seems, is being plagued by activists. And the media outlets (and that includes bloggers) that cover Shell, should be extra careful about rushing out news today. As Gawker's Adrian Chen reported earlier, a video supposedly shot at a party thrown by the oil giant turned out to be a hoax. Also a hoax? A Shell news release we received not half an hour ago saying that the company was going to sue the parties responsible for the hoax video.
The video, posted at the bottom of this story, was one of those too-good-to-check moments. At a party celebrating Shell's Arctic expansion, a miniature oil rig designed to pump liquor malfunctions and sprays an elderly woman.
The news release looked real enough. But the "proxymailing" bit in the "from" line and the vague nature of it set off my alarm bells. "Lawyers operating on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell plc. (Shell) are considering formal action against unknown activists who staged a counterfeit campaign launch event at the Seattle Space Needle," reads the release.
How a company could take formal action against unknown activists was beyond me. I also found it interesting that the supposed Shell release provided active links to the sites mocking the company. And that the phone number listed for U.S. media relations didn't match to the number listed on the company's actual website.
It also helped that Ad Age was implicated in an earlier version of this foolishness back when the Yes Men went after Chevron. Note, we didn't fall for the Yes Men's hoax in that case, but rather the group created a fake Ad Age story to make its hoax seem that much more real.
When I called Shell, I was told by a spokeswoman that she knew nothing of the news release and that it wasn't generated by the company.