COVID-19 Profiteers?

Numerous online companies are using the COVID-19 crisis to make their products better known (PacketPushers collected some of them). Nothing wrong with that - they’re investing into providing free- or at-cost resources, and hope to get increased traction in the market. Pretty fair and useful.

Then there are others… Here’s a recent email I got:

Due to the closure of educational institutions and libraries, online learning has become a key component to maintain the continuity of learning for students. However, not everyone has the opportunity and ability to access content and pay for it. In the US alone, over 3 million people have already lost jobs and the numbers are staggering, globally. All of these people need to upgrade their skills and learn new things for them to find jobs. Most of this must happen online.

So far it sounds like a Bullshit Bingo winner (creating those seems to be a favorite marketing pastime these days)… but it was just an introduction to this “personal invitation”:

We all are educators first. Hence we must fulfill our promise of teaching students however we can. With the support of our world-class instructors, $OurPlatform has put together a collection of over 250 eLearning courses that students can learn from at no cost. The current collection of our free courses is available here. I personally invite you to contribute to our COVID-19 eLearning Initiative and make some or all of your content freely available to students globally.

I removed the name of the platform, the links they advertised, and the name of the CEO who personally wrote me (yeah, sure)… but should a similar shenanigan happen again I won’t be so delicate.

As you probably know provided free content for over a decade, and I immediately replied…

We offered free content years before it was popular to do so due to COVID-19 pandemic. Here are just some of the thing we’re offering for free: […] You’re most welcome to point your computer networking focused users to these resources.

The next email I got revealed the true focus of the sender:

Thank you for your reply and for considering my request. Our platform also has the option to upload your courses as revenue-generating or premium courses.

What happened to “fulfilling our promise” and “our e-learning initiative”. This sounds more like business as usual… but it gets better:

I request you to upload your training material on our platform as we are widely distributing the content via partnerships with various organizations.

I couldn’t decide whether to laugh, cry, or scream… What a blatant move to get content for free and promote their platform in the name of charity.

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