Today's Internet: All the fake news that's fit to publish

Fictional Apple screws, phony New York Times editorials, bogus sources -- is anything on the Net not a fake?

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Granted, it was an impressive hoax. Save for the fake editorial, the page (at the cleverly named looked identical to the real one at, with live links to actual New York Times stories. The fake domain was registered using the same information as the real one. The fakers even managed to ape Keller's writing style. It was so realistic, in fact, that the New York Times' own Nick Bilton tweeted out links to it before he learned it was bogus.

What was WikiLeaks thinking? Good question. Whatever credibility WikiLeaks had is now completely shot. So when WikiLeaks reported it was under a massive DDoS attack by a group calling itself AntiLeaks earlier this week, the first thought on everyone's mind was: Yeah, right. What's your next fundraising ploy?

Gaming the media seems to have become the second-most popular attraction on the Internet besides porn. A couple of weeks before the Keller hoax, PR flackette and self-proclaimed liar Ryan Holiday revealed that he had managed to dupe reporters from the New York Times, ABC, and MSNBC into believing that he was a) a devoted collector of vinyl records, b) a long-suffering insomniac, and c) someone who got sneezed on at Burger King, respectively. None of those things were true, and all the publications Holiday tricked were forced to retract or print corrections.

Holiday says he did it to expose the flaws in a service called Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which connects journalists to sources. But it was conveniently timed to coincide with the release of his new book, which shall go unnamed here.

Why are all these incidents hitting at once? Because people are finally getting sick of the Internet news cycle, where being first is more important than being right. Unfortunately, in a world where pageviews rule and news spreads in 140-character chunks, accuracy will always be forced to the back of the bus.

Think of that when you peruse the latest iPhone 5 rumors or the headlines about Microsoft's alleged $200 Surface tablet. We are rapidly approaching a point where no one is credible and nothing can be believed. When you can no longer separate fact from fiction or reality from propaganda, the media simply becomes a megaphone for whoever can shout the loudest. That's a dangerous place to be.

Whom do you believe, and why do you believe them? Post your credible sources below or email me:

This article, "Today's Internet: All the fake news that's fit to publish," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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