Fear, uncertainty and doubt
Fear, uncertainty and doubt, frequently abbreviated as FUD, is a tactic used in sales
A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity....

, marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

, public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

, politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....


FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor's product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs
Switching barriers
Switching barriers or switching costs are terms used in microeconomics, strategic management, and marketing to describe any impediment to a customer's changing of suppliers....

 among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner
Business partner
Business partner is a term used to denote a commercial entity with which another commercial entity has some form of alliance. This relationship may be a highly contractual, exclusive bond in which both entities commit not to ally with third parties...

 who could potentially become a rival.

The term originated to describe disinformation
Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth...

 tactics in the computer hardware
Computer hardware
Personal computer hardware are component devices which are typically installed into or peripheral to a computer case to create a personal computer upon which system software is installed including a firmware interface such as a BIOS and an operating system which supports application software that...

 industry but has since been used more broadly. FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear
Appeal to fear
An appeal to fear is a fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for an idea by using deception and propaganda in attempts to increase fear and prejudice toward a competitor. The appeal to fear is common in marketing and politics...



The term appeared in other contexts as far back as the 1920s. By 1975, the term was already appearing abbreviated as FUD in marketing and sales contexts:
FUD was first defined with its specific current meaning by Gene Amdahl
Gene Amdahl
Gene Myron Amdahl is a Norwegian-American computer architect and high-tech entrepreneur, chiefly known for his work on mainframe computers at IBM and later his own companies, especially Amdahl Corporation...

 about 1975 after he left IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Corp.
Amdahl Corporation
Amdahl Corporation is an information technology company which specializes in IBM mainframe-compatible computer products. Founded in 1970 by Dr. Gene Amdahl, a former IBM employee, it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu since 1997...

: "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products." The term has also been attributed to veteran Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley also operates in 36 countries around the world, with over 600 offices and a workforce of over 60,000....

 computer analyst Ulrich Weil,
As Eric S. Raymond
Eric S. Raymond
Eric Steven Raymond , often referred to as ESR, is an American computer programmer, author and open source software advocate. After the 1997 publication of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Raymond was for a number of years frequently quoted as an unofficial spokesman for the open source movement...

By spreading questionable information about the drawbacks of less well known products, an established company can discourage decision-makers from choosing those products over its own, regardless of the relative technical merits. This is a recognized phenomenon, epitomized by the traditional axiom of purchasing agents that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment". The result is that many companies' IT
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 departments buy software that they know to be technically inferior because upper management is more likely to recognize the brand.


Although originally associated with IBM, from the 1990s on the term became most often associated with software industry giant Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

. Roger Irwin said:
The leaked internal Microsoft "Halloween documents
Halloween documents
The Halloween documents comprise a series of confidential Microsoft memoranda on potential strategies relating to free software, open-source software, and to Linux in particular, and a series of responses to these memoranda...

" stated "OSS [Open Source Software
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

] is long-term credible… [therefore] FUD tactics cannot be used to combat it."

Open source software, and the GNU
GNU is a Unix-like computer operating system developed by the GNU project, ultimately aiming to be a "complete Unix-compatible software system"...

Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

 community in particular, are widely perceived as frequent targets of Microsoft FUD:
  • Statements about the "viral nature" of the GNU General Public License
    GNU General Public License
    The GNU General Public License is the most widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU Project....

  • Statements that "...FOSS [Free and open source software
    Foss may refer toPeople*Foss , people with the last name Foss*Foss Shanahan , New Zealand diplomat*Foss Westcott , English bishop...

    ] infringes on no fewer than 235 Microsoft patents," before software patent law precedents were even established.
  • Statements that Windows has lower total cost of ownership
    Total cost of ownership
    Total cost of ownership is a financial estimate whose purpose is to help consumers and enterprise managers determine direct and indirect costs of a product or system...

     (TCO) than Linux, in Microsoft's "Get-The-Facts" campaign. It turned out that they were comparing Linux on a very expensive IBM Mainframe
    IBM mainframe
    IBM mainframes are large computer systems produced by IBM from 1952 to the present. During the 1960s and 1970s, the term mainframe computer was almost synonymous with IBM products due to their marketshare...

     to Windows on a PC.
  • Statements that "If an open source software solution breaks, who's gonna fix it?"


Apple's claim that iPhone jailbreaking could potentially allow hackers to crash cell phone towers was described by von Lohmann, a representative of the EFF
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States...

 as a "...kind of theoretical threat...” that “...is more FUD than truth.”.


The SCO Group
SCO Group
TSG Group, Inc. is a software company formerly called The SCO Group, Caldera Systems, and Caldera International. After acquiring the Santa Cruz Operation's Server Software and Services divisions, as well as UnixWare and OpenServer technologies, the company changed its focus to UNIX...

's 2003 lawsuit against IBM
SCO v. IBM is a civil lawsuit in the United States District Court of Utah. The SCO Group asserted that there are legal uncertainties regarding the use of the Linux operating system due to alleged violations of IBM's Unix licenses in the development of Linux code at IBM.-Summary:On March 6, 2003,...

, claiming $5 billion in intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 infringements by the free software community
Free software community
The free-software community is an informal term that refers to the users and developers of free software as well as supporters of the free-software movement. The movement is sometimes referred to as the open-source software community or a subset thereof...

, is an example of FUD. IBM argued in its counterclaim that SCO is spreading "fear, uncertainty, and doubt".

Magistrate Judge Wells wrote (and Judge Kimball concurred) in her order limiting SCO's claims: "The court finds SCO’s arguments unpersuasive. SCO’s arguments are akin to SCO telling IBM, 'sorry we are not going to tell you what you did wrong because you already know...' SCO was required to disclose in detail what it feels IBM misappropriated... the court finds it inexcusable that SCO is... not placing all the details on the table. Certainly if an individual were stopped and accused of shoplifting after walking out of Neiman Marcus
Neiman Marcus
Neiman Marcus, formerly Neiman-Marcus, is a luxury specialty retail department store operated by the Neiman Marcus Group in the United States. The company is headquartered in the One Marcus Square building in Downtown Dallas, Texas, and competes with other department stores such as Saks Fifth...

 they would expect to be eventually told what they allegedly stole. It would be absurd for an officer to tell the accused that 'you know what you stole I’m not telling.' Or, to simply hand the accused individual a catalog of Neiman Marcus’ entire inventory and say 'it’s in there somewhere, you figure it out.' "

Regarding the matter, Darl McBride, President and CEO of SCO, made the following statements:
  1. "IBM has taken our valuable trade secrets and given them away to Linux,"
  2. "We're finding... cases where there is line-by-line code in the Linux kernel that is matching up to our UnixWare
    UnixWare is a Unix operating system maintained by The SCO Group . UnixWare is typically deployed as a server rather than desktop. Binary distributions of UnixWare are available for x86 architecture computers. It was originally released by Univel, a jointly owned venture of AT&T's Unix System...

  3. "...unless more companies start licensing SCO's property... [SCO] may also sue Linus Torvalds
    Linus Torvalds
    Linus Benedict Torvalds is a Finnish software engineer and hacker, best known for having initiated the development of the open source Linux kernel. He later became the chief architect of the Linux kernel, and now acts as the project's coordinator...

    ... for patent infringement."
  4. "Both companies [IBM and Red Hat] have shifted liability to the customer and then taunted us to sue them."
  5. "We have the ability to go to users with lawsuits and we will if we have to, “It would be within SCO Group's rights to order every copy of AIX [IBM's proprietary UNIX] destroyed,"
  6. "As of Friday, June 13 [2003], we will be done trying to talk to IBM, and we will be talking directly to its customers and going in and auditing them. IBM no longer has the authority to sell or distribute IBM AIX and customers no longer have the right to use AIX software"
  7. "If you just drag this out in a typical litigation path, where it takes years and years to settle anything, and in the meantime you have all this uncertainty clouding over the market..."
  8. "Users are running systems that have basically pirated software inside, or stolen software inside of their systems, they have liability."

The campaign evidently worked, as SCO stock skyrocketed from under $3 a share to over $20 in a matter of weeks in 2003. (It later dropped to around $1.20—then crashed to under 50 cents on August 13, 2007 in the aftermath of a ruling that Novell
Novell, Inc. is a multinational software and services company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group. It specializes in network operating systems, such as Novell NetWare; systems management solutions, such as Novell ZENworks; and collaboration solutions, such as Novell Groupwise...

 owns the UNIX copyrights).

Real estate agents

In response to a growing number of homeowners forgoing the use of real estate agent services during the sale of their homes, national and regional real estate boards have adopted a strategy of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Ads reinforce consumers' anxiety over legal paperwork, and suggest that consumers are weak, intellectually lazy and fearful; that consumers can't possibly learn; and that it would be much safer to leave the process to a real estate agent.

Security industry and profession

FUD is also widely recognized as a tactic used to promote the sale or implementation of security products and measures. While there are many true security threats and breaches, it is possible to find pages describing purely artificial problems. Such pages frequently contain links to the demonstrating source code that does not point to any valid location and sometimes even links that "will execute malicious code on your machine regardless of current security software", leading to pages without any executable code.

The drawback to the FUD tactic in this context is that, when the stated or implied threats fail to materialize over time, the customer or decision-maker frequently reacts by withdrawing budgeting or support from future security initiatives.

Non-computer uses

FUD is now often used in non-computer contexts with the same meaning. For example, in politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 one side can accuse the other of using FUD to obscure the issues. For example, critics of George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 accused Bush's supporters, most notably the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, of using a FUD-based campaign in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

According to some commentators, examples of political FUD are: "domino theory
Domino theory
The domino theory was a reason for war during the 1950s to 1980s, promoted at times by the government of the United States, that speculated that if one state in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect...

", "electronic Pearl Harbor", and "weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...


The FUD tactic was used by Caltex
Caltex is a petroleum brand name of Chevron Corporation used in more than 60 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and southern Africa.-History:...

 Australia in 2003. According to an internal memo, which was subsequently leaked, they wished to use FUD to destabilise franchisee confidence, and thus get a better deal for Caltex. This memo was used as an example of unconscionable behaviour in a Senate
Australian Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. Senators are popularly elected under a system of proportional representation. Senators are elected for a term that is usually six years; after a double dissolution, however,...

 inquiry. Senior management claimed that it was contrary to, and did not reflect company principles.

More recently, Clorox
The Clorox Company is a US-based manufacturer of various food and chemical products based in Oakland, California, which is best known for its bleach product, Clorox.- History :...

 was the subject of both consumer and industry criticism for advertising its
GreenWorks line of allegedly environmentally friendly
Environmentally friendly
Environmentally friendly are terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment....

 cleaning products using the slogan
A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose. The word slogan is derived from slogorn which was an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm . Slogans vary from the written and the...

, "Finally, Green Works." The slogan implied both that "green
Environmentally friendly
Environmentally friendly are terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment....

" products manufactured by other companies which had been available to consumers prior to the introduction of Clorox's GreenWorks line had all been ineffective, and also that the new GreenWorks line was at least as effective as Clorox's existing product lines. The intention of this slogan and the associated advertising campaign has been interpreted as appealing to consumers' fears that products from companies with less brand recognition are less trustworthy or effective. Critics also pointed out that, despite its representation of GreenWorks products as "green" in the sense of being less harmful to the environment and/or consumers using them, the products contain a number of ingredients advocates of natural products have long campaigned against the use of in household products due to toxicity to humans or their environment. All three implicit claims have been disputed, and some of their elements disproven, by environmental groups, consumer-protection groups, and the industry self-regulatory Better Business Bureau
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau , founded in 1912, is a corporation consisting of several private business franchises of local BBB organizations based in the United States and Canada, which work through their parent corporation, the Council of Better Business Bureaus .The Better Business Bureau, through...


See also

  • Agnotology
    Agnotology is the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. The neologism was coined by Robert N...

  • Dihydrogen monoxide hoax
    Dihydrogen monoxide hoax
    In the dihydrogen monoxide hoax, water is called by an unfamiliar name, "dihydrogen monoxide", followed by a listing of real negative effects of this chemical, in an attempt to convince people that it should be carefully regulated, labeled as hazardous, or banned...

  • Embrace, extend and extinguish
    Embrace, extend and extinguish
    "Embrace, extend and extinguish," also known as "Embrace, extend and exterminate," is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice found was used internally by Microsoft to describe its strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with...

  • Hoax
    A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

  • Iago
    Iago is a fictional character in Shakespeare's Othello . The character's source is traced to Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinthio's tale "Un Capitano Moro" in Gli Hecatommithi . There, the character is simply "the ensign". Iago is a soldier and Othello's ancient . He is the husband of Emilia,...

  • Perception management
    Perception management
    Perception management is a term originated by the US military. The US Department of Defense gives this definition:Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems...

  • Propaganda
    Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

  • Religious paranoia
    Religious paranoia
    Religious paranoia is a condition which has been compared to extremism and intolerance. It has been cited as a possible contributor to political violence...

  • Swiftboating
    The word swiftboating is an American neologism used pejoratively to describe an unfair or untrue political attack. The term emanates from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth and its widely publicized, then discredited, campaign against 2004 US Presidential candidate John Kerry.Since the political...

  • Tin foil hat
  • Scareware
    Scareware comprises several classes of scam software with malicious payloads, or of limited or no benefit, that are sold to consumers via certain unethical marketing practices. The selling approach uses social engineering to cause shock, anxiety, or the perception of a threat, generally directed at...

  • Merchants of Doubt
    Merchants of Doubt
    Merchants of Doubt is a 2010 book by the American science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the climate change debate and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer...

  • Doubt is Their Product
    Doubt is Their Product
    Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health is a 2008 book by David Michaels, published by Oxford University Press....

  • Culture of fear
    Culture of fear
    Culture of fear is a term used by certain scholars, writers, journalists and politicians who believe that some in society incite fear in the general public to achieve political goals, for example......

External links

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