Are pro-fracking online comments coming from paid shills?

IP address search returns interesting results

David Accomazzo | Boulder Weekly

Here at Boulder Weekly, we welcome robust discussion of our
stories. We hope that whenever we tackle an issue in an article, those with
opinions from all sides of the political spectrum can come to the comments
section of our website and find a robust and respectful discussion.

We are so
open-minded that we even welcome comments from paid employees of some of the
people we write about. A reader, James, engaged in a back-and-forth with some
pro-fracking commenters on a recent
column written by
Paul Danish
. He then wrote a comment challenging us to do some “investigative
journalism” on the identities of his debate opponents, since he suspected they
were on the payroll of the oil and gas industry.

Well, we looked
into it. And James just might be onto something. We entered IP addresses of
some pro-fracking commenters on our website into a WHOIS database and were able
to track two commenters to two separate IP addresses registered to Noble Energy
and one commenter to an IP address registered to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

Of course,
there’s nothing wrong with oil and gas employees expressing their pro-fracking
opinions on our website. Still, it’s pretty
interesting to note that the majority of pro-fracking comments on one article
on our website came from two major oil and gas companies.

Online comment
boards and discussion groups are increasingly becoming targets for PR firms,
corporations and possibly even the government.

Can we add oil
and gas companies to the list? Perhaps. We’ll keep an eye on it.