Yahoo Didn’t Sentence 200,000 Iranians to Death, and Other Misadventures in Online Journalism

Paul Carr writes on Techcrunch:

In one of those wonderful ironies of scheduling that make columnists weep with joy, Larry Dignan spent yesterday at a Yahoo! hack day in New York.

This is the same Larry Dignan who is Editor in Chief of ZDNet, which is the same ZDNet that yesterday published a blog post accusing Yahoo of passing the names and email addresses of thousands — sorry, hundreds of thousands – of bloggers to the Iranian authorities during the country’s recent election.

Poor old Larry. One can only imagine the warmth with which he was greeted when he arrived at Yahoo’s event. “Hey Larry!” his hosts may perhaps have said “go fuck yourself.” And their suggestion wouldn’t be entirely unfair, given that the story — written by ‘lawyer and technology writer’ Richard Koman, was a steaming pile of horseshit.

How much horseshit? Let’s break it down, just for giggles. Koman’s unnamed source for the story was a guy who had translated an Iranian blog post written in Farsi. The post — which, let’s say it again, was written in Farsi, which Koran doesn’t speak – was published on the blog of an avowedly anti-government Iranian student group. In the original post, which Koman quoted without a secondary source or an independent translation, it was claimed that Yahoo’s Malaysian subsidiary had passed on the information after access to their Iranian site was blocked by Tehran. Yahoo doesn’t have an Iranian site, nor does it have a base of operations in Malaysia. Neither Koman nor anyone else at ZDNet bothered to put the allegations to Yahoo before publishing a story which Koman admitted he hadn’t got entirely “buttoned down”.

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