Jack Nicas reported for The New York Times about how Facebook’s PR firm brought political trickery to tech.
While working for Qualcomm, Definers pushed the idea that Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, was a viable presidential candidate in 2020, according to a former Definers employee and digital records. Presumably, it was an attempt to chill the cordial relations that Mr. Cook had cultivated with the Trump administration.
Definers employees distributed anti-Apple research to reporters and would not say who was paying for it. Definers distributed a 13-page memo titled “Apple Bowing to Chinese Cyber Regulators” that detailed how Apple’s activity in China contradicted its public stance on privacy elsewhere. It also planted dozens of negative articles about Apple on conservative news sites, according to a person familiar with the work and emails reviewed by The New York Times.
“Definers manages NTK Network, a news aggregation platform that targets Washington D.C. influencers. Through NTK we can directly re-publish favorable news from other outlets, and work with like-minded individuals to help create an echo chamber effect,” he wrote in a copy of the proposal reviewed by The Times.
This year, NTK has published at least 57 articles criticizing Apple and Mr. Cook. Some of the posts needled Apple for issues at the center of the legal dispute between Apple and Qualcomm and repeated Qualcomm’s complaints. Apple had also started to move away from using Qualcomm chips.
“The iPhone 8 Might Be Slower Than the Competition. Here’s Why” read a headline on an April 2017 story. NTK’s answer? The iPhones don’t use Qualcomm chips.
Other stories were even more direct, like one from August about Qualcomm’s technology that concluded: “For Apple, the choice will be clear: make nice with Qualcomm, or offer a slower, inferior product to consumers.”
Would you trust a company that employs such trickery and smear campaigns?