Wikileaks "takedown" fiasco underscores pathetic state of internet "journalism"

[ Updated Dec 4 and Dec 7, see “Further Reading” section at end of post]

I’ve commented before th

at I’m amazed at how fast bad information travels on the internet, but this morning it got pretty ridiculous.

Looks like wikileaks was the subject of a DOS attack last night, and their DNS provider who was everyDNS.net and not easyDNS, took the website down.

I’m not sure who the Pulitzer candidate was who started it, but somebody wrote that Wikileaks had been taken down by us, easyDNS. By the time I woke up this morning I was inundated with emails and comments.

The incorrect info rippled through twitter like a zombie horde. Not only did people mindlessly hit the “retweet” button and perpetuate bad information: some took the time and care to email us, or search for our blog (why couldn’t they do a whois lookup while they were at it?) and post comments about our “cowardice”.

In the old bricks and mortars world, reporting 101 dictates that no statement should be published until said reporter verifies it via 3 separate sources. Out here on the internet, all it takes is a simple whois lookup to realize that easyDNS was not the DNS provider for this domain.

Having said that, I would like to direct people’s attention to my previous comments about DNS providers and DOS attacks. Having been there personally, I know how hard it is to face a DOS attack, and speaking for ourselves, any decisions made while a full-on shitstorm is being targeted at one’s company and business are not political ones, they are ones of survival. I challenge anybody sitting in the comfort of their cozy little bubble existence at home, to sit on the receiving end of a full on DOS attack directed at themselves and then pontificate about “cowardice” or anything else. Armchair quarterbacks.

So here’s the honor role of half-wits who should know better who should immediately cease trying to pass themselves off as any kind of legitimate “news source”, or at the very least: Correct your story and issue an apology to us.

  1. ZedoMax: WikiLeaks OUSTED by Amazon and EasyDNS! (The priceless excerpt here: “Do I support Wikileaks?  Let’s just say that I am a blogger, I pass on information, that’s my job.” Hahaha. And a bang up job at that!)
  2. shortformblog.com: EasyDNS knocks Wikileaks’ main DNS offline
  3. Gawker: At least they corrected their story. But they sent us this: “We will fix. You do not get a tweet or correction. Now stop emailing and calling us, please.”
  4. Techdirt.com[They got it right, we got it wrong. They shouldn’t be in this list.]
  5. And finally: Lucian Parfeni: “journalist” of the year who wrote: “But the biggest damage to WikiLeaks was done by EasyDNS.net, the site’s DNS provider. “
  6. Belatedly: GigaOm: aren’t you guys supposed to be like the pinnacle of tech reporting? Gee, thanks. At least you changed it with an overstrike over our name.
  7. [Dec 4th] It Gets Worse: After posting last night that I believed the worst was behind us and I just wanted to move on, The New York Times picks up the misinfo this morning and runs with it. Here we go again…..
  8. [ Dec 7th] The Hits Keep On Coming: After The Guardian runs Wikileaks under attack: The “definitive” timeline (definitive, my ass). Looks like the Guardian is more widely read by Netizens than the NYT because the shitstorm this one unleashed on Twitter is the worst one yet.

[ Again, apologies to Techdirt for putting them in this list, we leave it here with the correction simply to call attention to the fact that there was a mistake here we want to address. We found out later much larger sites FT.com made the same mistake, citing us instead of everyDNS and then simply corrected it silently and without comment. Techdirt later ran this great overview of the situation ]

Honourable mention to the people who took the time to search for our blog and our support contact details (but not for the actual facts of the matter):

“Kate” took the time to post to our blog and tweet this:

@easydns WRT your treatment of WikiLeaks, thanks for letting us all know how unreliable your pathetic company is.

Thanks Kate. Next time how about getting your facts straight. [ Kate did stop by and posted a follow-up apology – Thanks for that. It is appreciated ]

Here’s a few more from the post-Guardian backlash:

#Wikileaks : Anti-Freedom of Press companies include: Tableau Software, Amazon, easyDNS, PayPal, Mastercard, Postfinance, & VISA

Lieberman’s legion of corporate dark forces: Tableau Amazon easyDNS PayPal OVH Postfinance Mastercard Visa

Companies attacking Wikileaks: Amazon, senator Joe Lieberman, easyDNS.com, PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Switch, Tableau Software, Eric Besson

Additionally, a Huffington Post reporter tweeted this:

The #domain name company EasyDNS.net has followed @amazon and @paypal in severing ties with @Wikileaks.

And then after I sent (what is now a standard version) “please get it right #easydns did NOT take down @wikileaks!!” tweet, she responded:

Never said it did!!

If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am. Anybody who has had previous dealing with our company knows, when we screw up, we own it. But what I refuse to take responsibility for is something that has absolutely nothing to do with us.

While we’ve been confused with other companies before, it’s never really taken on a life of it’s own the way it has today. Today I feel like we’ve taken a direct hit to our reputation through no fault of our own and that to me is just not cool.

It demonstrates the mob mentality in action: that people are far too ready to jump on a witch hunt, but point out their errors and very few, if any will own up to their mistakes. Throughout the morning we’ve been busily out there setting the record straight: not one so-called “internet journalist” or dipshit blogger has issued a simple “mea culpa” on this, or retweeted a clarification (especially gawker who went so far to scold us “You do not get a tweet or correction. Now stop emailing and calling us”, uhm, ok our bad for being slandered by you? ). I guess all the fun is rubbing somebody else’s face in it, but when it comes back on you it’s too difficult to own up the responsibility.

Also See

50 thoughts on “Wikileaks "takedown" fiasco underscores pathetic state of internet "journalism"”

  1. Kate Black says:

    Sorry, I’m a retard.

  2. BAM says:

    *facepalm*

    People are stupid. I read (skimped) an article about this only once yesterday and can still remember very clearly that it was EveryDNS. And I’m not even a native English speaker.

  3. Ernie Smith says:

    Sorry for the error on my part; I posted it a little fast and it was completely unintentional.

    – Ernie @ http://shortformblog.com/

  4. Jared Johns says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re a victim of misinformation. Perhaps all these people who are hysterical about everything Wikileaks related need to take a deep breath and check the facts before relaying what might be incorrect information surrounding this Wikileaks fiasco.

  5. The Dude says:

    The worst thing is, EveryDNS isn’t at fault either. The stupid, it burns.

  6. Jeff Moe says:

    Gawker didn’t slander you; it’s called libel when it is in writing. Slander is spoken.

  7. Sarah says:

    That sucks for you guys. 🙁 It might help that Reddit has picked up your story.

    Also, FYI, something’s wonky with your tab ordering: tabbing from the ‘Name’ field takes me way up to your search bar, instead of to ‘Email’ in the comments form.

  8. Perhaps the next zombie movie (or an alternate audio track to an existing zombie movie) would have some zombies mumbling ‘tweet’ every once and a while (as opposed to ‘brains’) with many of the other zombies in ear shot echoing with a ‘re-tweet’. Having one or two of the more significant zombies have a long drawn out ‘blloooogggggggg’ as an alternate to ‘tweet’ would add to the fun. It could either be just a minor background note, or it might possibly be a central point of the story as a statement on the mob mentality of people and the effects of modern life. hmm, a loose remake of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ ?

  9. Fred says:

    Yes, how big of of Kate to come back to say sorry. And in doing so she uses a word that historically has been used disrespect an entire segment of our population.

    Maybe she can apologize for that now.

  10. Mike Masnick says:

    Huh? Just noticed that you include Techdirt in your list. We never said that it was EasyDNS. From the beginning we properly said EveryDNS. It was the first commenter who said EasyDNS and we corrected him in the comments.

    Kind of amusing for a blog post calling out bad reporting that it would misstate the facts as well.

    Anyway, I would appreciate you not claiming that we falsely said EasyDNS. We never did.

  11. Adam Hosker says:

    I may have re-tweeted, this after-all its sheep mentality with wikileaks. Evil Amazon, evil easydns everyDNS, funny royal family and crappy governments. no?

  12. janey says:

    “but point out their errors and very few, if any will own up to their mistakes.”

    Ah, this is par for the course with way way WAY too many bloggers/wannabe “journalists.”

    Not the first time this has happened, and certainly won’t be the last. Such is life in the new era of “citizen journalism.” The web has given a voice to more mindless halfwits than we can shake a stick at. (And before some fool says “herp derp like YOU? lulz” – meh, whatever.)

  13. Iskandar says:

    Hey don’t worry too much about it. I’d never have heard of your company if it weren’t for those zombies.

  14. G says:

    E-mailed Gawker due to their disgusting handling of the situation.

    Their reply was;

    “Don’t email us again — you’re clearly an idiot.”

    Pretty much speaks for itself.

  15. Anon says:

    Out here on the internet, all it takes is a simple whois lookup to realize that easyDNS was not the DNS provider for this domain.

    Sadly, the mindless hordes that repeat the bad info are also the same mindless hordes that M$ has programmed to never need to even know how to perform a whois lookup, or for that matter to even need to understand what a whois lookup provides.

  16. Danny Snead says:

    This is why I’ve had Gawker media sites in my hosts file. I can’t even justify visiting with AdBlock.

    # Gawker Media

    127.0.0.1 gizmodo.com

    127.0.0.1 http://www.gizmodo.com

    127.0.0.1 m.gizmodo.com

    127.0.0.1 gawker.com

    127.0.0.1 http://www.gawker.com

    127.0.0.1 m.gawker.com

    # End Gawker Media

    This is just a small example, feel free to add more.

    Current Gawker Media Sites – Wiki

  17. AnonCoward says:

    At least you can think of it this way… anytime someone thinks of free dns they can’t help but think “easydns.org” 😉

  18. max says:

    Oops, my apologies, didn’t mean to make ur company look bad, I should have looked up the domain first but for some weird odd reason, I thought “easydns” instead of “everydns”. Sorry bud!

  19. HerpDerpington says:

    Alright, alright, I agree that Gawker are being dicks for responding to you so harshly, and the other sites are also misinformed, but come on… do you really need to make such a hissyfit post? It’s true that they should have verified their sources, but responding this way isn’t going to win you any points here.

    I’m not trying to bash you guys or anything; you provide a great service for a lot of websites and I’ve used that service myself more than once. But you’re running a business. You expect those businesses who misrepresented you to show some professionalism. Shouldn’t you sort of do the same?

  20. JW says:

    I was about to take my business elsewhere, but I’m glad to see EasyDNS was not the one involved in this.

  21. rebo says:

    “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

    -Winston Churchill

  22. Alex says:

    Im with you guys in spirit, I’ve actually had a really rough week too..I’ll spare the details, but I understand mob mentality, people would rather casually drive off if they see someone getting assaulted rather than get involved. The counterpart (and irony perhaps) is that people are QUICK to get involved in a situation involving someones downfall.

    People are trash, they only get “involved” to join in the witch hunts yet most would turn away to an event requiring them to involve themselves in a POSITIVE way.

    In short, people are sick pieces of worthless ****. Individuals, on the other hand, are thoughtful and creative, capable of showing empathy.

    I’ll be sending a letter to that “remy” hipster just to let him know he’s an arrogant troll. I support you guys 100%, you have every right to be pissed.

  23. Jesse says:

    @HerpDerpington I don’t think the issue is how they responded to him. If you want to be unprofessional about your business and call people names, that’s completely fine. However, ethically, they should have noted that they made the error in the article. They could even do it the way newspapers do it by not repeating the error in the correction. For example, something simple like “In the original posting of this article we named the wrong DNS service.”

    If Gawker really wants to be respected as a journalistic institution they need to take responsibility publicly. If they want to be douchenozzles in their non-public dealings with businesses, fine.

    Personally, I have more respect for an online only publication that’s willing to take responsibility for mistakes instead of scrubbing those mistakes.

  24. Jon Jeopardy says:

    @max like I said several times on your “blog”, you are an illiterate, blathering fool and you should be ashamed of yourself for earning over one-thousand dollars a month off of the utter filth you post on the internet. Thank you for sucking.

    That goes for all of the “blogger” idiots that spread misinformation like this; if you think you deserve to be thought of as journalists, then you should turn yourselves in for libel. *******! [ Sorry Max, need to keep it relatively clean, thx for the support – Mark ]

    EasyDNS, you guys are cool.

  25. xaironaub says:

    Well, I think it is clear that if easydns had the hosting, it would have been cowardly anyway and pulled the plug just like everydns. So I invite people to keep flooding easydns with emails because these domain providers have to learn.

    • Mark Jeftovic says:

      How exactly is it “clear” what we would have done? You’re talking about a what-if situation and somehow we have to explain ourselves over something some other company did for real?

      Judge us by what we do, not by you “think” we “might” do if some hypothetical situation comes to pass.

      Get a life.

  26. Larry says:

    Too bad. I wanted to give you some business simply because you did cut Wikileaks off. Assange is a coward, rapist, and thief. He should be shut down!

    [ Well Larry – If there’s one thing we can all learn from this it is not to blindly believe everything you read in the press – Mark ]

  27. Julian Bradfield says:

    Rebo: Churchill didn’t say that, as is obvious from the fact that it’s in American. (In 1940s English, it would be indelicate to refer to (under)pants in public like that, as well as unidiomatic.) The saying (with shoes rather than pants) is usually attributed to Mark Twain.

  28. Fred says:

    So Mark,

    What if Wikileaks came knocking on your door. Would you provide services?

  29. L. Eser says:

    Nice picture. 😉

  30. Fred says:

    You have my respect, Sir!

  31. sohbet says:

    wikileaks by –>>> new adresse http://www.wikileaks.ch

  32. EasyDNS has been my DNS provider for years. They have been reliable, responsive, and creditable. Their first responsibility to their customers is keeping their service stable.

    Were they to invite cyber attacks on EasyDNS systems by taking of Wikileaks DNS, they would not be responsible, and it would greatly surprise (and disappoint me) if they attempted to do so, political correctness is irrelevant.

    However, I can imagine that it would generate terrific publicity.

  33. KNZ says:

    Hmm… http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-under-attack-definitive-timeline

    Friday 3 December

    • TECH: Wikileaks.org ceases to work for web users after easyDNS.com, which had provided a free routing service translating the human-readable address into a machine-readable form, ends support.

    Wikileaks shifts to a backup domain registered in Switzerland but actually hosted in Sweden, at Wikileaks.ch, though the cables are hosted in part by OVH, an internet provider in the north of France.

    EasyDNS claims that the DDOS attacks against Wikileaks were disrupting its service provided to thousands of other customers. It insists on its front page that it “The Company That Did NOT Take Down Wikileaks” beside a cartoon character showing a thumbs up.

  34. The Guardian screwed it up too: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-under-attack-definitive-timeline

    They even acknowledge that your home page says you’re the company that didn’t take down Wikileaks, but apparently failed to click the Read More link.

  35. Boris says:

    The most ironic part is that they link to this article, without even reading it.

  36. Deex says:

    You may want to complain to the Guardian… (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-under-attack-definitive-timeline?CMP=twt_gu)

    They commented on this actual posting without reading it I guess!

  37. Cod says:

    Unfortunately, yet again you have fallen for misattribution, this time in a Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/07/wikileaks-under-attack-definitive-timeline

    Since The Guardian gets quite a lot of exposure due to being one of Wikileak’s prime media partners, I felt sympathetic to your cause and e-mailed them explaining the error. I’m hoping they’ll change it very soon.

  38. Mr. TRex says:

    I absolutely LOVE the zombie cartoon! I’m glad that despite troves of bad reporting you’ve maintained a healthy “glibness” to your response without need to resort to petty flaming. On bad reporting, FT.com? I would have expected as much from U.S. journalists, but it appears the Brits are just as bad. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if most English speaking journalists just wait for updates to the DrudgeReport.com before copying and pasting their stories.

    People have already mentioned The Guardian’s screwup, so it doesn’t bear repeating – though I would fire off a quick nasty-gram to their managing editor (Alan Rusbridger – public email address is editor@mediaguardian.co.uk). They’ve come across as somewhat sympathetic to WikiLeaks, so I’m sure they would want to accurately report correctly which company left ’em hanging (an not cast stones against innocent bystanders.

    Speaking of being a bystander, why not take advantage of the obvious huge support base WikiLeaks enjoys and join the party with a sponsored mirror of your own? Hmmm, wikileaks.easydns.org, I like the sound of that. 🙂

  39. Anonymous says:

    Guardian site has been fixed and now references EveryDNS in the article.

  40. Anonymous says:

    The old Guardian version was funny.

    It insists on its front page that it “The Company That Did NOT Take Down Wikileaks” beside a cartoon character showing a thumbs up.

    Is this even a full sentence?

    Copied “The Company That Did NOT Take Down Wikileaks” in their article, didn’t click on “read more”, and calling themself journalists?

  41. Cinderella says:

    I saw the info in the Guardian and immediately sent them an email noting their error. Stuff like this spreads like wild fire on the internet and it just goes to show people like to be spoon-fed ‘news’. What has WikiLeaks taught us? Check your sources!!

  42. Brooks Bayne says:

    is anyone surprised by gawker’s actions/response? seems par for the course for me. they are what extreme leftism unchecked looks like in the business world.

  43. Robert says:

    Payback’s a b***h, eh Gawker?

    When I first read this a few days ago I was really upset by the way Gawker treated you. It appears they inadvertently got theirs.

  44. Alex says:

    Yeah it’s pretty insane to see everything that has been going around about it recently, and virtually all of it online.

    I’ve been trying to make some sense of it..

    http://sonnblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/and-on-it-goes.html

    http://sonnblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/our-leaky-nation.html

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