Punishing linkbaiters?

On May 9, money.co.uk published a story alleging that a 13-year-old kid in Texas had stolen his dad's credit card and used it to rent a motel room and some prostitutes. The cute/quirky part of the story was that the kids simply played Xbox with the "$1,000 a night girls." The story quickly spread throughout the media, appearing in The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and Fox News, among others. But a few days later it was exposed as a hoax, since the police had no record of such an incident. David B posted about it here in the forum.

Online marketer Lyndon Antcliff admitted he had posted the story on the website of his client, money.co.uk, as an experiment in "linkbait." He said, "It's been a lesson in the power of social media and the power of people suspending their disbelief. [Traditional news organizations] are always banging about how inaccurate blogs are, but in this case, it was the opposite."

The story of the hoax and its exposure now has got a second wind, and is doing the rounds again, on account of some suggestion that google may punish linkbaiters by lowering their page rank. This doesn't sound like a good plan to me. Linkbait (or, more simply, hoaxes) may have publicity as a motive, but can also serve other, more socially useful purposes (i.e. exposing the pompous and gullible). Plus, once hoaxes are exposed, they become genuine news stories. So why try to artificially suppress their visibility?

However, Google hasn't actually said it will punish linkbait, but Wired's article about the hoax suggests the possibility. They write, "We didn't get an official response from Google about how the search engine might treat fake content that's used as a marketing tool, but search quality guru Matt Cutts implied that the company frowns upon this sort of practice." (Thanks, Joe)


Posted on Sat May 24, 2008


So, Wired is publishing linkbait about Google punishing linkbaiters? 😝
Posted by cindik  on  Sat May 24, 2008  at  07:55 AM
Shows you how the more sensational story is remembered, not to 'correction' followup. I remember the story, but never heard it was a hoax.
Shows how easy it is to fool I guess.
Posted by AussieBruce  on  Sun May 25, 2008  at  09:23 AM
i remember this story, i found it hard to belive that some prositutes would go with some kids on threat of being sued for discrimination, so itook it with a grain of salt
Posted by JoOdd  on  Sun May 25, 2008  at  03:05 PM
Maybe Google could punish slack-a*sed journalists who don't bother to check the facts in their question for 'sensational' news stories...
Posted by Hugo  on  Sun May 25, 2008  at  06:26 PM
The day Google and the mass media start banning hoaxes, I'm out of a hobby.

Fortunately, there's zero chance it will happen.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  01:20 AM
P.S. So far this year, I have 15 radio interviews and numerous blog entries under my belt for a hoax I haven't 'fessed up to yet.

God bless lazy media people!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  01:22 AM
Sweet, CMG. See if you can get a movie deal out of it?
Posted by Robin Bobcat  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  05:18 AM
aw, damn... I read the thread title again... I thot it was about Art Linkletter in Hell... kids say the gdamndest things
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  03:25 PM
Hmm, I don't know if this particular thing lends itself to a movie treatment, but maybe my "body of work" might. (Yes, I'm laughing at the phrase "body of work" to describe my legacy of silliness.)
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon May 26, 2008  at  06:03 PM
"Legacy of Silliness"

There's your title right there.
Posted by cindik  on  Tue May 27, 2008  at  04:39 AM
I like that, cindik.

The title I've contemplated for my theoretical autobiography is "The President's Right-Hand Man."

From February '95 to February '98, I worked outside the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. dressed like George Washington (semi-long story).

A few feet away from where I stood, Jay, a Middle-Eastern man, had life-size photo cutouts of Bill and Hillary Clinton which tourists posed with for souvenir pictures.

Occasionally, if there was a crowd watching, Jay would ask me to come over. I would crouch behind the tourist(s), reach up and put my right hand on their shoulder, making it look as if Bill Clinton had his arm around them. It looked great in the photos and always got a laugh from the crowd. I was literally the President's right hand.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed May 28, 2008  at  01:59 AM
(Sorry, Cranky, I just can't resist) You were Bill Clinton's right hand? Too bad you weren't busier, cuz then he wouldn't have needed (all together now) Monika Lewinsky... chortle chuckle snicker
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Wed May 28, 2008  at  06:51 AM
Clinton is left-handed. I was merely a witness to his "other-handed" activities.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu May 29, 2008  at  01:52 AM
C,mon, CMG. Give us the goods. Spit it out.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu May 29, 2008  at  08:16 AM
Sorry, Hairy. Hands never tell.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jun 02, 2008  at  06:55 PM
Really valuable information for me. Thanks for sharing the info.
Posted by Zen  on  Thu Sep 17, 2009  at  12:06 AM
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