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Wikileaks: We’re Behind Hoax Targeting New York Times

Wikileaks: We’re Behind Hoax Targeting New York Times

 

On Sunday morning I saw a tweet from @Wilkileaks to a New York Times column from Bill Keller defending WikiLeaks. I hadn’t noticed such a piece when I’d been reading the New York Times on Saturday night or seen it listed in the Opinions section of the New York Times app on my phone. I read it and then became engrossed in the matter at hand, helping load my son’s and husband’s bikes after they’d ridden 16 miles on a bike trail in New Jersey.

When I got home and looked online, I saw Keller’s tweet that it was all a prank, as he wanted to make (understandably) quite clear:

THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS.EMPHASIS ON “FAKE. “AS IN, NOT MINE. — Bill Keller (@nytkeller) July 29, 2012

The fake column, entitled “WikiLeaks, a Post Postscript,” had been carefully formatted to have the very appearance of the New York Times site and the piece’s writing mimicked Keller’s style though it did include a sentence that Keller had written, taken from an email that Keller (the real individu al) had sent Mathew Ingram of GigaOM. ”I’ve said repeatedly, in print and in a variety of public forums, that I would regard an attempt to criminalize WikiLeaks’ publication of these documents as an attack on all of us.” On July 25, GigaOM had published a piece (including excerpts from Keller’s emails to Ingram) about why Keller “agrees the organization should be protected by the First Amendment and media companies should come to its defence.”

New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton, the Guardian‘s Dan Gilmor and the hacker group Anonymous initially thought the column was indeed by Keller. The Guardian explains how whoever wrote the fake column circulated it through Twitter — this was a well-thought out ruse:

The fake article was distributed through Twitter using a couple of routes. One appeared to be via Keller’s own official Twitter feed with the handle @nytkeIler.

A closer look at that feed, though, reveals that the handle @nytkeIler was subtly misspelt to confuse the reader. The apparent two Ls in the middle were in fact spelled with a capital i and a lower case L as in @nytkeiler.

The same ruse was used to post a fake tweet under Keller’s name saying “I am now a world expert in dressage. Ask me anything.”

The second route was through Keller’s genuine Twitter feed. A reference to the fake article by @journalismfest was retweeted under Keller’s official name, suggesting that his Twitter feed may have been hacked.

The fake column was posted on a site whose web address looked just enough like it was part of the New York Times, http://www.opinion-nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/keller-a-post-postscript.html. The Guardian reports that this fake domain was registered on March 30 and that the New York Times is investigating the prank — which involved plagiarism and seems clear in its attempt to deceive people into thinking it was a real column by Keller — too see “whether its web systems had been compromised and whether there were any legal issues resulting from the copying of its domain format.”

Keller (yes, the real Keller) was clearly miffed and not amused, telling the Guardian “I see this in the realm of childish prank rather than crime against humanity. It’s a lame satire. I’d take it a little more seriously if it were actually funny.”

A former New York Times executive editor speaking out for Wikileaks on the very Opinion page of that newspaper: It sounds too good to be true and it was. It’s certainly likely that we’ll see more of such pranks and plagiarisms and some of a potentially more insidious nature. How can we teach ourselves to distinguish the real from the fake?

Wikileaks has claimed responsibility in a July 29 tweet:

Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters where behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 29, 2012

Though at this point, it’s not unreasonable to question even this claim.

 

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35 comments

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10:21PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

"Though at this point, it's not unreasonable to question even this claim"??
Is the Pope catholic?
Is the Earth round, or flat?
Do you live in a free and open democracy???

3:51PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Or Keller could not be telling the truth.

3:00PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

@Marianne C.[I've often wondered how much of Wikileaks was real, and how much they'd just based loosely on possible reality -- or made up entirely.

Given this situation and the lack of good judgment it shows, and the simple but utter lack of integrity, my doubts seem founded. Any credibility they ever had is surely shot down by this petty act of juvenile behavior.]

The US Government has never denied the veracity of the cable-gate documents , but rather made disingenuous noises about national security from which they themselves have back-peddled.

The content of those cables exposed not security assets but rather diplomatic channels of corporatist communications, including the plottings of global banking interests to obtain bailouts around the world prior to most even knowing there was an issue.

He who has the gold builds the news that builds the views.



2:37PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sigh... Where is WikiLeaks when you need them to do some serious work in the public interest,like leaking Mitten's tax returns, or the secret conference notes of the Koch-heads' super-rich cabal?

2:37PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sigh... Where is WikiLeaks when you need them to do some serious work in the public interest,like leaking Mitten's tax returns, or the secret conference notes of the Koch-heads' super-rich cabal?

2:36PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sigh... Where is WikiLeaks when you need them to do some serious work in the public interest,like leaking Mitten's tax returns, or the secret conference notes of the Koch-heads' super-rich cabal?

2:36PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sigh... Where is WikiLeaks when you need them to do some serious work in the public interest,like leaking Mitten's tax returns, or the secret conference notes of the Koch-heads' super-rich cabal?

2:36PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sigh... Where is WikiLeaks when you need them to do some serious work in the public interest,like leaking Mitten's tax returns, or the secret conference notes of the Koch-heads' super-rich cabal?

2:23PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

" Show me a piece of real government fraud or deceit - this was like 'look at what I can do'. "

Are you kidding? OUR government is regularly committing MURDER! In OUR name! For example: http://www.collateralmurder.com/

If it wasn't for Wikileaks and Bradley Manning's heroism in whistleblowing, we'd never know about this!

2:22PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

To me, any hacking is serious, whether it is intended as a joke or it is intended to menace.

When you hack a news organisation and get creative with information, there are so many that will buy into the story without doing further reading. People just don't think anymore --- they too often want to be spoon fed. Then there is all the wasted time and effort to sort things out.

If this was a hoax, I think it rather childish.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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