Fake NY Times Article Fools The Media
Last week, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller had a stunning change of heart, as he wrote an op-ed defending embattled WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange and supporting the reporters who use information from WikiLeaks reports. The piece circulated widely on social media. Just one problem: Bill Keller didn’t write it.
In fact, Keller has long been one of Assange’s strongest critics. It’s still unclear who was behind they hoax, but they bought a fake (but real-looking) NY Times domain name, and created a fake (but real-looking) Bill Keller Twitter account. And the writer took their job seriously, crafting a compelling editorial.
As those of you who have followed my turbulent relationship with WikiLeaks and its Guru-In-Chief Julian Assange know, I am first in line when it comes to distancing myself from his brand of transparency without government checks and balances. You don’t have to embrace Assange as a kindred spirit to believe that what he did in publishing those cables falls under the protection of the First Amendment. The backroom pressures by the Obama Administration’s State Department to expand its financial blockade targeting WikiLeaks to include news organizations that host information from their trove of pilfered documents goes too far.
To make matters even more confusing, it seems that the real Keller retweeted the piece himself, although he also strongly disowned it from his real twitter account (in all caps, no less). But the damage was done, and the Times got a particularly embarrassing black eye when their own Nick Bilton was taken in by the fake.
I just deleted a Tweet sent late last night that was from a fake NYT Bill Keller account.
— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) July 29, 2012
I have to wonder if Keller actually views this latest Twitter hoax as proof of his scathing criticisms of social media, which have drawn him his own criticism.
What do you think?