CNN’s iReport citizen journalism site was vandalised again last night with a false report claiming that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was “found dead in his multimillion dollar beachfront mansion” after a coke binge with “male dancers everywhere.”
It’s likely the work of 4chan message board goons, upset over a report that AT&T was blocking the site for its broadband customers.
The false story received several hundred votes on Digg, but never made the Digg homepage, likely because so many people “buried” the story as inaccurate. CNN has removed the story from iReport, but you can see it — and a screenshot of its Digg page from last night — below.
This highlights the risk of high-profile news organisations like CNN running citizen journalism sites. While CNN includes a disclaimer on all of its pages that stories have not been vetted or fact-checked, it’s still going to offer an added air of credibility over a random, blank site. And while it’s good that CNN is able to take fraudulent posts like this one down so quickly, it’s still going to be hard to ever achieve credibility when your platform is also being used for malice.
Last year, an 18-year-old iReport prankster reported falsely that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had died of an apparent heart attack. 4chan was supposedly the origin of that stunt.
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