Browse Definitions:
Definition

sock puppet

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A sock puppet, in the context of online communications, is a fake identity created to promote someone or something through blogs, wikis, forums or social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

Sock puppets are often created to improve the status of some company or other entity or to promote a particular viewpoint that is expected to be helpful to that entity. Fake identities are created to circumvent site bans, increase product sales, improve or tarnish reputations, spread disinformation and stifle dissent, among other possibilities.

Sometimes people create their own sock puppets; sometimes they hire others to do so. Someone hired to create a sock puppet is referred to as a meat puppet, an Internet shill or a cyber shill. The use of a sock puppet to artificially stimulate demand for a product or service is known as sock puppet marketing.

A few documented examples of sock puppetry:

  • Conrad Black, chief executive of Hollinger International, created an account with the name “nspector” to post on Yahoo Finance chat. Black’s sock puppet blamed short sellers for his company’s lackluster performance.  
  • A marketing executive from Sony created a fictional critic called David Manning, who gave glowing reviews for films from Columbia Pictures (a subsidiary of Sony).
  • Crime fiction writer RJ Ellory created  a sock puppet called Nicodemus Jones to post reviews of his own work. The sock puppet called Ellory’s novel A Quiet Belief in Angels “a modern masterpiece” and exhorted: “Just buy it, read it, and make up your own mind. Whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul." Another Ellory-generated sock puppet, Jelly Bean, posted negative reviews of Stuart MacBride’s novel, Dark Blood: “I think this is a shame. So many good authors given so little advertising and promotion, and here we have another tiresome same-old, same-old from someone who could do so much better…"

Sock puppetry is an unethical and sometimes illegal practice. Another disincentive is the fact that, if detected, sock puppet marketing makes the person or company behind it look ridiculous and desperate. Furthermore, if the purpose is to sell a product, it may be assumed that the company is untrustworthy and the product so lacking in value that it cannot be effectively promoted honestly.  

See also: reputation management, social media influence, content marketing, gaming the system

This was last updated in October 2013

Continue Reading About sock puppet

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

SearchSecurity

  • evil maid attack

    An evil maid attack is a security exploit that targets a computing device that has been shut down and left unattended.  An evil ...

  • Common Body of Knowledge (CBK)

    In security, Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) is a comprehensive framework of all the relevant subjects a security professional ...

  • rootkit

    A rootkit is a program or, more often, a collection of software tools that gives a threat actor remote access to and control over...

SearchHealthIT

  • value-based healthcare

    Value-based healthcare, also known as value-based care, is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing ...

  • health informatics

    Health informatics is the practice of acquiring, studying and managing health data and applying medical concepts in conjunction ...

  • clinical trial

    A clinical trial, also known as a clinical research study, is a protocol to evaluate the effects and efficacy of experimental ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • crisis communication

    Crisis communication is a method of corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event to provide them with ...

  • Zerto

    Zerto is a storage software vendor that specializes in enterprise-class business continuity and disaster recovery in virtual and ...

  • crisis management plan (CMP)

    A crisis management plan (CMP) is a document that outlines the processes an organization will use to respond to a critical ...

SearchStorage

  • SSD write cycle

    An SSD write cycle is the process of programming data to a NAND flash memory chip in a solid-state storage device.

  • data storage

    Data storage is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical ...

  • hard disk

    A hard disk is part of a unit -- often called a disk drive, hard drive or hard disk drive -- that stores and provides relatively ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close