Monday, December 18, 2006

Boycott Gizmodo For Intentionally Misleading Readers And Covering Their Tracks

The time has come to Boycott Gizmodo. Today's iPhone incident is the last straw. Not only did Brian Lam and Gizmodo purposefully deceive long standing readers such as myself about the iPhone, they did a terrible job of covering their tracks. Here's how it all happened.

Last Thursday, the 14th, Gizmodo posted a story claiming to have the scoop of the century. They knew when the iPhone was coming out! It was a very brief post, reading:

"Gizmodo Knows: iPhone Will Be Announced On Monday

I guarantee it. It isn't what I expected at all. And I've already said too much. –Brian Lam"

The post was tagged Apple, Cellphones, Iphone, and Top. Here's a screenshot:
Granted, this is already shaky. How many iRumors have these blogs published? So a lot people didn't seem to pay attention or just wrote it off as another rumor. If "Gizmodo Knows" about the iPhone, why can't they tell everyone how they came into this information? It's not as though the iPhone isn't the most hotly anticipated phone ever. They do readers a disservice by being so cagey but maybe they really did say too much.

Of course, the Internet immediately exploded with rumors of the prospect of the fabled iPhone being launched so soon. Some sites were skeptical, and with good reason. The first Digg story hit the front page but was buried. So Gizmodo changed the URL and it was resubmitted, again hitting the front page, and this time staying there.

Original URL:
Modified URL:

Still, the rumor was out, and long standing iPhone believers waited patiently through the weekend to learn Gizmodo's secret. Then, last night at 12:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday the 17th, the bomb dropped. The iPhone wasn't what they had led everyone to believe, it's really a Linksys VoIP phone.

Everyone is immediately let down, and for good reason! People trust Gizmodo, they are a top 1000-ranked Alexa site and they're in the top 10 of Technorati. But they offer up this weak apology: "P.S. Macheads--including those from Macrumors, Think Secret, TUAW, and Cult of Mac--know Apple likes to release gear on Tuesdays. So they didn't expect an Apple iPhone Monday. If you did read into my original post and feel like I misled you, sincere apologies for the discomfort." (Original post at Gizmodo.)

What? You deliberately misled everyone into thinking you had the scoop on the Apple iPhone! You could have easily said it wasn't the "Apple iPhone" you were talking about, or at very least not tagged it with the Apple tag. Oh wait, upon second inspection, it looks like the Apple tag is now missing!
Yes, if you go back to the original post you will see it's been un-tagged Apple. Very clever. You "never" tagged it that, so you can't be held responsible for people thinking you were talking about the Apple iPhone. So wrong.

The backlash begins. Within minutes users start protesting on Gizmodo's own comment boards. A Digg post appears asking if Gizmodo tricked everyone. (Yeah right) The Mac community responds: Om Malik says "Brain Lam of Gizmodo played a cruel joke on the world". PSFK wants nothing to do with Gizmodo any longer. John Gruber (Daring Fireball) takes a shot and calls Brian Lam a jackass. Mac Gazette also calls Brian Lam an ass, which turns into a Digg story titled "Brian Lam is an Ass - and the iPhone isn't from Apple". Not surprisingly, this Digg post was buried as well!

Traffic to the original URL was also redirected to a story about U.S. Airlines not recycling, so people coming to see for themselves would have to hunt around (and give more page views) to see the fiasco. At least one user pointed this out on Digg and it seems Gizmodo took notice and reversed the URLs in an effort to control the additional damage they caused running "damage control". The original URL for their post.

This was briefly changed to:

Note how the address ends in 222336.php, and is slyly changed 222236.php

The original now points to the article again (good thing the Digg story was buried), and the fake URL STILL points to the U.S. Airlines story. Don't believe me? Here are screenshots:
Note: original 222336.php URL.

Now the URL is 22236.php. Really, is there any reason this story should have that URL?

Who do you think you're fooling Gizmodo? You think you can trick your community to get more page views, then weasel your way out of the consequences? Do you think no one notices what you're doing? Do you think anyone will ever trust you again? Do you think that whatever reputation you have as a credible news site will be boosted by this stunt?

You're wrong. You have no trust left. You can't be loyal to those who willfully deceive you, and it's time to pay the price. I'm boycotting Gizmodo, and I hope the rest of you do too.