Gawker Refuses to Post Correction on WikiLeaks DNS Screw-Up, Trades Threats With Company Asking For Apology
The last week's political and media hoopla over the latest WikiLeaks document dump has had the internet going nuts. Things got so wild online that Julian Assange's official website spent hours over the span of a few days crashed after a series of DDOS attacks. Amazon.com kicked WikiLeaks off of its servers on Wednesday, PayPal also ended their affiliation and two days later their Domain Name Service provider dropped WikiLeaks as well. The company EveryDNS took a lot of heat for being cowardly in dropping WikiLeaks, but so did the similarly named EasyDNS, which never had anything to do with WikiLeaks. Everyone from GigaOm to the New York Times misidentified EveryDNS as EasyDNS, resulting in a deluge of hate mail and criticism for an uninvolved company. But when the company requested a correction from Gawker, things got ugly with editor Remy Stern threatening a post "explain[ing] to readers why they should avoid doing business with [EasyDNS] at all costs."
The Gawker post in question can be found here and now features no mention of EasyDNS. Instead, the correct company's name (EveryDNS) is used, but the post also features no mention of an updated mistake, typically noted online with a strike-through or an appended correction at the bottom.
Mark Jeftovic of EasyDNS explains in a blog post the huge negative reaction his uninvolved company received due to the proliferation of the incorrect information on the internet.
He also explains that when he contacted Gawker's Stern about fixing the incorrect reference to his company Stern responded via email, "We will fix. You do not get a tweet or correction. Now stop emailing and calling us, please."
Stern tells us that Jeftovic downplayed the nature and frequency of EasyDNS's requests, not only emailing him (and other Gawker staffers) repeatedly, but calling the office "about 20 times" and leaving "numerous" voicemails "demanding" a new post and a tweeted apology, "and if we didn't do it, we'd be sorry."
"We don't respond kindly to threats and intimidation," said Stern to Runnin Scared via email. "And obviously we don't put up new posts to apologize for typos in older posts."
Justifiably upset about the angry emails he was mistakenly receiving for something his company did not do, Jeftovic unfortunately lashes out at all writing online and how it's not "real reporting," an argument we've all heard a thousand times before. In this case, though, he was feeling the very real effects of the "zombie horde" who "mindlessly hit the 'retweet' button and perpetuate bad information."
Still, his request does not sound ridiculous: "Correct your story and issue an apology to us."
But in an interesting twist, Stern was equally pissed about the rash of emails he was receiving criticizing Gawker for shaming an innocent business. When a man claiming to be unaffiliated with EasyDNS sent a sassy email to Stern recommending the editor "re-read some of the basic ethics in journalism," Stern assumed the man worked for EasyDNS too and lashed out at him.
"Don't email us again -- you're clearly an idiot," Stern wrote. The man wrote back, "Emailing again out of spite. Keep up the good journalism," and then Stern was fed up. At 3:22 a.m. he responded:
If you and your moronic colleagues continue to email us, we'll be happy to write about your company's harassment tactics and explain to readers why they should avoid doing business with you at all costs.
The man, identified as Grant in the emails (and Reddit user Telenational), posted the whole exchange on Reddit under the title, "Gawker threaten bad press towards EasyDNS due to Gawker's own f*up with regards to WikiLeaks." He also posted a screenshot of their exchange, which you can see below.
For his part, Stern said the emails posted "don't show the back and forth, their outrageous demands, detail how many times they called the office on Friday." Stern noted that "they continued to email us and harass us all day Friday from various email addresses," though it is possible that after Jeftovic's blog post, readers emailed Gawker independently of the company, as Grant claims to be have done.
Now, based on the vitriol toward Gawker Media in the Reddit thread, the angry emails, like this one, are probably pouring in. The lesson here: maybe Klosterman was right and deleting emails makes everyone sort of stabby. Internet trolls, here on all sides, really are a lot like zombies.