A fake New York Times article reportedly written by former editor Bill Keller that supports WikiLeaks was widely circulated online and fooled many readers into believing that The New York Times supports the WikiLeaks' First Amendment rights.
According to Gawker, the article titled "WikiLeaks, a Post Postcript," argued that regardless of one's feelings about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks must be protected under the First Amendment. The article also argued that reporters who report WikiLeaks information should also be protected under the First Amendment.
But it has been confirmed that the article was not written by Bill Keller and that it was never published in The New York Times. Gawker reports the article appeared on a fake NY Times page purchased on March 30.
Storify reports the page fooled some of Times' reporters and it was spread quickly on Twitter late on Saturday and on Sunday. One of those reportedly fooled by the fake article was Times' own tech writer Nick Bilton, who retweeted it to his 120,000 Twitter followers.
According to Storify, "The page is designed just like a New York Times page, but you'll notice that the URL is wrong. The word 'opinion' precedes the 'nytimes.com' - the real URL for NYT opinion pages is: nytimes.com/pages/opinion/i.... Many phishing websites use words, preceding the 'official' URL as a way to spoof websites and mislead people. The fake website was incredibly intricate and well done, which helped the op-ed spread quickly."
Screenshot of the fake New York Times op-ed allegedly by Bill Keller .
According to The Herald Sun, the article made an impression and spread quickly on Twitter mostly because Keller is known to dislike Julian Assange. The Inquisitr reports that an account that was apparently Keller's was used to tweet the article, but the account was later shown to be fake.
The Herald Sun reports that one of the first to detect that the artlice was fake was privacy researcher Chris Soghoian. He pointed out Bilton's error in tweeting a false link. When Bilton realized his mistake he wrote:
"After suspecting something was off with the account — namely that it didn't have a little blue 'verified' symbol next to it and didn't show an accurate follower count — I discovered that the two 'll's in the Twitter handle were actually a capital 'i' and lowercase 'L.' So in Twitter's app, it looks like a capital 'll' when in reality it spells his name with an 'il.' I notified someone at Twitter late last night (see the timestamp of the screenshot) and asked if this was a Twitter bug, or a fake account and they said they would investigate. It turns out, it was the latter."The Inquisitr quotes from the fake Bill Keller New York Times article:
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
Bill Keller used his real Twitter account to set the record straight on Sunday morning, saying in caps: "THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS. EMPHASIS ON FAKE. AS IN, NOT MINE."
Yahoo News reports WikiLeaks has taken credit for the hoax on its Twitter account. According to Storify, "Wikileaks is now taking credit for the fake op-ed: twitter.com/wikileaks/statu.... 'Yes. We admit it. WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters where (sic) behind the successful NYTimes banking blockade hoax on @nytkeller.'"
Jay Rosen, an NYU journalism professor, said the incident will have considerable fallout for WikiLeaks. He tweeted: "I say it's a nadir for Wikileaks...Their ship was launched on the sea of verification. They just sunk it. For attention."