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.

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