News-Reworder SlashGear Turns Expert Into Criminal Defendant

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30 Responses

  1. Al Pastor says:

    Including this site ;-)

  2. Nowan says:

    Ken,

    One question. What, hypothetically, if he were to submit to them and document a request for the publication of a retraction and they refused. Would that then constitute a conscious "reckless disregard" for the truth?

  3. Why does everyone take a screenshot? Why not save a web archive. You can do "file save" in most browsers and make an offline copy of the entire page.

  4. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Why a screenshot?

    A: Its a lazy factor

    B: It captures the page, as rendered, to the viewer.

    And often you need to present captured pages in another media (e.g. a court document), while a web archive doesn't allow you to embed "This is what the page looked like".

    PDF print page doesn't always render right, but when it does it has an additional advantage of including a date stamp in the document, so thats usually my first choice, with just screencap at #2.

  5. Paranoid Android says:

    @Chris:

    Screenshots (at least on the mac) are a keypress and click away, and is not dependent on the browser. On the PC it's a keypress, and a trip to an image program like Paint – a bit more work, but still simple enough for anyone to understand. Windows 8 and higher reduced the work to just a keypress.

    Save-as within a browser is problematic at best, and usually requires at least the same browser in order to properly read the resulting archive. An image is readable almost anywhere.

    Edit: Beaten to the punch by @Nick. Similar thoughts tho.

  6. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Slashgear, to their credit, has now updated and fixed things after being notified.

  7. Nowan says:

    Screenshots are easy and self contained. Saving a page requires saving all of the individual elements of the page and converting references between them so that they work locally. Also some things, such as an individual frame in a playing video especially if the video is streaming, will not be easily displayed, if at all. Then when you want to republish the capture, there are a lot more headaches to contend with. Also not all devices are capable of saving the page whereas almost everything can now take a screenshot.

  8. Jim Tyre says:

    Nicholas,

    I'm not sure I'd say to their credit. They have removed the reference to you. But they have not acknowledged that an earlier version of the story was incorrect, that you are not a criminal defendant. (At least that we know of.)

  9. That Anonymous Coward says:

    Due Diligence, its not just for lawyers.

  10. babaganusz says:

    I'm not sure I'd say to their credit.

    indeed, even "in their defense" would be a charitable stretch.
    but no doubt pursuing this at length would scare up the hoary old "but ain't nobody got time to publically issue retractions for every single error no matter how erroneous…". yeah, like anybody's asking you to be consistent… hacks.

  11. SarahW says:

    Kleargear, Slashgear "Gear" is almost like Wayne as a middle name. At least I still have TopGear. For now.

  12. Craig says:

    The name "SlashGear" sounds like a lame attempt to ride on the coattails of Slashdot, which at least has the distinction of being a well-known, long-established, and highly-popular site, even though it basically just offers summaries (often rather inept) of stories on other sites. I've never visited SlashGear and have no intention of ever doing so, so I have no idea how far they go to try to make themselves look similar to Slashdot, if at all, but the name alone indicates a complete absence of creativity.

  13. Trevor says:

    Regarding screenshots and stuff, if you want to prove that a webpage was a certain way at a certain time, I'd recommend using a service such as http://archive.is/ , since that would be virtually impossible to fake, rather than a screenshot which would be trivial to fake. A screenshot by itself would be pretty weak evidence since anyone using a modern browser can easily edit webpage elements and take a completely realistic looking screenshot of the altered webpage.

    see for example, http://i.imgur.com/exNKmpc.png

  14. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Trevor: Actually, a service like archive.is isn't what you want. IANAL, but from what I can tell, someone needs to AUTHENTICATE documents for them to actually be evidence.

    You'd need both a service which archives and timestamps (and ideally crypto-timestamps, eg, by putting into the bitcoin blockchain), AND someone willing to testify.

  15. SPQR says:

    Dr. Weaver, shame you were slimed by these incompetents. You are taking it with more aplomb that I would.

  16. Brian says:

    I've been familiar with the site Slashgear for about 2 minutes – so this is isn't an expert opinion – but it appears unfair to characterize this site a simply a also-ran re-writer of other outlets' articles. Many of the stories featured on the homepage are reviews of consumer electronics. Maybe I'm naive, but I doubt this site is copying other reviewers.

  17. Chris says:

    I have slashgear's rss feed on my list. They constantly do stupid stuff. Nothing of this magnitude but often treading to places where they don't have the brainpower to get themselves back from.

  18. Suedeo says:

    This hilarious pratfall shall be included in an 8-point footnote at the bottom of a page somewhere in Dr. Weaver's future biography; I can totally envision lady CS undergrads with posters of him in their dorm rooms.

  19. BLM4L says:

    I bet that there lots of men in Florida named Nicholas Weaver. If so, how can Dr. Weaver prove that the article would be understood to be about him, given the lack of other identifying information in the article?

  20. G. Filotto says:

    Well, and this is basically why the Internet has proved God. A million monkeys typing away do not Shakespeare make.

  21. ZarroTsu says:

    Now, a million and one monkeys, then we'll get somewhere.

  22. G. Filotto says:

    I think we're pretty close to one if not two billion monkeys already actually… But I have to pick some ticks out of a neighbour's ear, so can't be industrious enough to check…plus….shiny objects…!

  23. Nicholas Weaver says:

    BLM4L: Actually, that part would be easy to prove, since it points to an article which mentions and identifies me.

  24. albert says:

    @BLM4L

    "I bet that there lots of men in Florida named Nicholas Weaver"

    He wouldn't have to reside in Florida :)

    The Krebs article clearly identifies him, and is cited as the source of Hillens article.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but most attorneys would advise them to print a heartfelt apology and retraction immediately. That should be a matter of policy for any publication. That it isn't for Slashgear speaks volumes.

    It is mind-boggling just to skim the Krebs article and then try to figure out how Dr. Weavers name got mixed in with the defendants. I'd be interested in hearing her explain that.

    At least I now know to avoid reading Slashgear…

    I gotta go…

  25. BLM4L says:

    @ Nicholas Weaver

    True, but by that point the reader must realize that the linking article made a mistake, since the linked article clearly identifies you as an expert, and not as one of the arrestees.

  26. Nowan says:

    I bet that there lots of men in Florida named Nicholas Weaver. If so, how can Dr. Weaver prove that the article would be understood to be about him, given the lack of other identifying information in the article?

    Excellent legal theory you got there. You know that one worked famously well for Prenda Law.

  27. shorpshireblue says:

    When I google a stranger or prospective hire I look at the search results.

    I don't go looking through the website checking out stories on 10 other people trying to gain a statistical understanding of the website's accuracy.

    Slashdot, Slashgear, Huffington Post, to me just doing a regular check, they all carry the same weight.

    NY Times or Washington Post would carry more weight, but them aside, local newspapers, small news sites, I'd tend to consider them the same.

  28. Sinij says:

    I too get annoyed at news-reworder sites, I can see how if I ever met people behind one I could end up a criminal defendant.

    :P

  29. Warren Vita says:

    Given that the writer's Twitter handle is "cyborgwriter", maybe she's just a poorly implemented AI. I wonder how many of these news sites are just slightly better Markov chain algorithms than spam blogs…

  30. This is funny says:

    Because I was reminded of an email I sent to someone with a link to "the world's worst written article" here is a link:
    http://www.slashgear.com/chrome-os-hits-the-iphone-and-ipad-28236304/