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Organization targets employees’ Facebook accounts

by on March 5, 2015
TUSK is targeting accounts where owners identify themselves as AEP employees.

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

A solar advocacy lobbying organization is waging an advertising and public relations campaign that targets utility company employee Facebook accounts to help spread its messages.

One of the tactics being used by the organization TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t be Killed) is to place paid ads on the Facebook pages of individuals who indicate they work or are retired from AEP and other targeted organizations. The ads tend to be very negative toward the organization.

Here’s the trick. The ads can be seen only by the employee until such time that the employee comments on the ad in an effort to defend the company. When an employee takes that step, they inadvertently share the post that previously wasn’t shared.

“We understand that employees naturally want to defend AEP when these ads appear on their Facebook pages. And we appreciate that,” said Josh Polk, AEP’s social media manager.  “Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the organization wants because every comment creates free advertising and spreads its message.”

AEP encourages employees and retirees who see these ads on their Facebook pages to simply do nothing.

Employees can block posts with a few quick clicks.

Also, such a post can be easily blocked. According to Polk, a post can be blocked by following these steps:

  • Click on the down arrow ( v ) at the top of the post.
  • A drop down box will appear. Select “I don’t want to see this.”
  • The ad will be hidden from view.


The post can be reported to Facebook if it re-appears in a personal feed.

  • Click on the down arrow ( v ) at the top of the post.
  • A drop down box will appear. Select “Report post.”
  • A report will be sent to Facebook.


Should a retiree still choose to comment on the ads, they are reminded that they should be clear that they are AEP retirees, but that they are speaking on their own behalf and not for the company.

TUSK is sponsored by several solar developers and other advocacy groups. The group moves from state to state and typically follows the same tactics in each jurisdiction to attack utilities that are trying to make sure policies are fair to all customers who use the grid.

While AEP does not criticize TUSK for trying to advance members’ own business interests, it challenges TUSK to honestly represent what it is trying to achieve. TUSK positions this issue as the big monopoly utilities against the little guys who just want to put solar panels on their roofs, but the group represents solar developers, not the solar customers in AEP’s service territory.

From → News From AEP

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