Sunday, May 31, 2009

Telecommunications giant behind ´ZuneX´ fake

The ´ZuneX´ rumour I recently reported about is a fake, I can exclusively reveal. It is an interesting fake, though, since it is perpetuated by German telecommunications giant and multinational corporation Deutsche Telekom AG, Europe's largest according to Wikipedia.

The German gaming site who posted the various ´ZuneX´ images, Mimbee, notes in their imprint that they are part of the Telekom's network. The Whois information for the domain confirm this. While I found it hard to believe that a multinational corporation would be behind such a fake, my research revealed that the gaming site is not even an outside commission job, but an in-house development. Apparently, their reasons for the stunt have nothing to do with hunting down cheap clicks, though, as a member of staff wrote to me in an email. Above everything else, it was meant to be satirical, they claimed.

I replied, voicing concern that a large corporation has joined the ranks of fifteen year-olds in their parents' basement by devising and perpetuating such a relatively elaborate fake. Their reply, again, contained no apology.

To this day, the site has not come clean on the fake. Quite the contrary. In a recent entry, the Telekom bragged about the reach of the story, including mentions in the Playboy, Yahoo, Boing Boing and various reputable gaming news sites.

In my mind, this episode is nothing more than a cheap attempt at getting clicks. It is flawed viral marketing by another multinational (remember Sony's attempt) and it will most likely become equally successful. And, for those people who know what the term means, that last comment was meant to be satirical.

It's one thing to have to debunk teenagers. It's quite another thing when someone like the Deutsche Telekom is leading you on, in a desperate hunt for page impressions.

EDIT You can read the original story in German over on my newsroom's blog.

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