Trust Me, I'm Lying
Trust Me, I'm Lying

Trust Me, I'm Lying

The reality is that they are all subject to the same incentives, and they fight for attention with similar tactics.* Most people don’t understand how (Location 469)

Although there are millions of blogs out there, you’ll notice some mentioned a lot in this book: Gawker Media, Business Insider, Breitbart, Politico, Vox, BuzzFeed, Vice, the Huffington Post, Medium, Drudge Report, and the like. This is not because they are the most widely read, but instead because they are mostly read by the media elite. (Location 473)

We’re a country governed by public opinion, and public opinion is largely governed by the press, so isn’t it critical to understand what governs the press? (Location 491)

The constraints of blogging create artificial content, which is made real and impacts the outcome of real world events. (Location 530)

The economics of the internet created a twisted set of incentives that make traffic more important—and more profitable—than the truth. (Location 532)

A friend of mine recently used some of my advice on trading up the chain for the benefit of the charity he runs. This friend needed to raise money to cover the costs of a community art project, and chose to do it through (Location 565)

The more immediate the nature of their publishing medium (blogs, then newspapers, then magazines), the more heavily a journalist will depend on sketchy online sources, like social media, for research. (Location 641)

At the same time, they are cash-strapped and traffic-hungry, always on the lookout for a big story that might draw a big spike of new viewers. (Location 652)

A media example: Katie Couric claims she gets many story ideas from her Twitter followers, which means that getting a few tweets out of the seven hundred or so people she follows is all it takes to get a shot at the nightly national news. (Location 684)

It’s a simple illusion: Create the perception that the meme already exists and all the reporter (or the music supervisor or celebrity stylist) is doing is popularizing it. They rarely bother to look past the first impressions. (Location 691)

Sex, college protesters, Hollywood—it was the definition of the kind of local story news producers love. (Location 709)

“Outrage porn” is a better term. People like getting pissed off almost as much as they like actual porn. (Location 715)

the exception of a few at the top layer) is under immense pressure to produce content under the tightest of deadlines. Yes, you have something to sell. But more than ever they desperately, desperately need to buy. The flimsiest of excuses is all it takes. (Location 747)

The system is so primed, tuned, and ready that often it doesn’t need people like me. The monster can feed itself. (Location 751)

The strategy works well, because many readers will see the story in only one place; they have no idea that it was actually broken or originally reported elsewhere. (Location 876)

See, Ebner had also shown the clips to his friends at Gawker, who turned around and immediately posted a story featuring the videos before Mark or anyone else had a chance to. (Location 884)

Only after that did I begin to understand how blog fortunes were made: off the backs of others. (Location 888)

Blogs are built to be sold. Though they make substantial revenues from advertising, the real money is in selling the entire site to a larger company for a multiple of the traffic and earnings. Usually to a rich sucker. (Location 898)

Blogs are built and run with an exit in mind. This is really why they need scoops and acquire marquee bloggers—to build up their names for investors and to show a trend of rapidly increasing traffic. (Location 908)

Blogs are built so someone else will want them—one stupid buyer cashing out the previous ones—and millions of dollars are exchanged for essentially worthless assets. (Location 912)

Michael Arrington, the loudmouth founder and former editor in chief of TechCrunch, is famous for investing in the start-ups that his blogs would then cover. (Location 922)

He ultimately left TechCrunch after a highly publicized fight with the new owners, AOL, who dared to question this conflict of interest. (Location 930)

It’s also interesting to note that many of these blogs and publishing platforms, which purport to expose corruption and the misdeeds of other businesses, often have their own dark secrets. (Location 940)

“I wrote an average of 5 posts a day,” she said, “churning out nearly 1,740 articles over the course of 20 months. (Location 942)

The assumptions of blogs and their owners present obvious vulnerabilities that people like me exploit. They allow us to control what is in the media, because the media is too busy chasing profits to bother trying to stop us. (Location 951)

Professional blogging is done in the boiler room, and it is brutal. (Location 981)

The more traffic the site does, the larger the pool. It’s the same incentive—desperately dependent on big hits—but instead of fighting each other for pageviews, they’re all in on the hustle together.3 (Location 996)

which open up previously exclusive outlets to freelance writers who are paid by the view or by how many social media shares their articles get (as an approximation of pageviews). (Location 999)

These kinds of rates force channels big and small to churn out videos constantly to make money. Every view is only a penny in their pocket. (Location 1034)

Through various ad networks you can actually pay influential accounts to post prewritten messages or endorse products. (Location 1036)

occurs to me now that sponsored tweets (and Instagram posts and Snapchat stories) would be a very easy way to propagate conspiracy theories or fringe ideas. (Location 1043)

What blogger is going to do real reporting on companies like Google, Facebook, or Twitter when there is the potential for a lucrative job down the road? What writer is going to burn a source if they view their job as a networking play? (Location 1072)

If you invest early in a blogger, you can buy your influence very cheaply. (Location 1078)

Others allow it., a platform I love, is really a site made up of many different channels. Those channels are allowed to sell access and articles to willing buyers. I know this because after getting one of these offers, I e-mailed an editor at Medium to report the corruption and was told such deals are considered aboveboard. (Location 1100)

Most corruption is not obvious. The incentive for bloggers to write bigger, to write simpler, to write more controversially or, conversely, more favorably, to not waste time or resources on research or fact-checking, to write more often than is warranted because it will get them the traffic they need, is hard to spot, but it is there. (Location 1105)

They are “entirely dependent on self-interested ‘sources’” to supply their facts. Every part of the news-making process is defined by this relationship; everything is colored by this reality. (Location 1123)

Online, “anonymous” means something else entirely. Quotes and tips are drawn from unsolicited, untraced e-mails or angry comments pulled from comments sections, or sent in by people who have something to gain from it. (Location 1127)

So I started putting out press releases all the time. Open a new store? Put out a press release. Launch a new product? Put out a press release. Launch a new color of a new product? Press release. (Location 1169)

In my experience, bloggers operate by some general rules of thumb: If a source can’t be contacted by e-mail, they probably can’t be a source. I’ve talked to bloggers on the phone only a few times, ever—but thousands of times over e-mail. (Location 1204)

I like to point out a Gizmodo story where the site fell for a hoax and got thirty thousand pageviews for its poorly researched story headlined (Location 1345)

Manipulators and self-promoters, on the other hand, pray this kind of due diligence never happens. And sadly, they know it likely won’t. (Location 1354)

Study the top stories at Digg or and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3 Bs—behavior, belief, or belongings—you get a huge virus-like dispersion. (Location 1360)

Why? Because all that is depressing. As Jonah Peretti, the virality expert behind both the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, believes, “if something is a total bummer, people don’t share it.” (Location 1412)

My point here is not sociological so much as it is practical. Let me explain how this ends up affecting companies and public figures. Say someone accuses you of something horrible—obviously those salacious allegations make for good copy. (Location 1423)

that’s starting to involve a lot of variables. It’s complicated. It’s boring. No one is getting excited to share that. (Location 1426)

crap because they don’t have much recourse with a media that cares more about what spreads than what is accurate. (Location 1430)

According to the study, “the most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes” [emphasis mine]. I will say it again: The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger. (Location 1466)

outrage I created for Tucker’s movie worked so well. According to Berger’s study, anger has such a profound effect that one standard deviation increase in the anger rating of an article is the equivalent of spending an additional three hours as the lead story on the front page of (Location 1468)

For instance, an equal shift in the positivity of an article is the equivalent of spending about 1.2 hours as the lead story. It’s a significant but clear difference. The angrier an article makes the reader, the better. But happy works too. (Location 1471)

The HuffPo photos were awe-some; they made us angry, or they surprised us. Such emotions trigger a desire to act—they are arousing—and (Location 1476)

“They imagine that the reason people share stuff is to have a laugh. But a huge part of sharing is being passionate about something, about shedding light on what really matters.” (Location 1479)

Both extremes are more desirable than anything in the middle. Regardless of the topic, the more an article makes someone feel good or bad, the more likely it is to make the Most E-mailed list. (Location 1482)

The press is often in the evil position of needing to go negative and play tricks with your psyche in order to drive you to share their material online. (Location 1490)

That’s the kind of stuff that will make you hit “share this.” They push your buttons so you’ll press theirs. (Location 1494)

Pity, empathy—those drive us to do something, like get up from our computers to act. But anger, fear, excitement, laughter, and outrage—these drive us to spread. (Location 1496)

When I designed online ads for American Apparel, I almost always looked for an angle that would provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all worked equally well. (Location 1505)

I’m not sure if I was the first person to ever do this, but I certainly told reporters I was. (Location 1517)

The publicity from the spectacle generated tens of thousands of dollars in sales, and that was my intention all along. (Location 1521)

I made it my strategy to manufacture chatter by exploiting emotions of high valence: arousal and indignation. (Location 1523)

generate all sorts of brand awareness in the few minutes users saw them. A slight slap on the wrist or pissing off some prudes was a penalty well worth paying for, for all the attention and money we got. (Location 1525)

As Chris Hedges, the philosopher and journalist, wrote, “In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.” (Location 1562)

The web has only one currency, and you can use any word you want for it—valence, extremes, arousal, powerfulness, excitement—but it adds up to false perception. Which is great if you’re a publisher but not if you’re someone who cares about the people in Detroit or you’re someone who wants to find common ground with their neighbors. (Location 1577)

I have my own analysis: When you take away the question mark, it usually turns their headline into a lie. (Location 1608)

When I want someone to write about my clients, I might intentionally exploit their ambivalence about deceiving people. If I am giving them an official comment on behalf of a client, I leave room for them to speculate by not fully addressing the issue. (Location 1616)

questions to their readers in a click-friendly headline. The answer to my questions is obviously “No, of course not,” but I play the skeptic about my own clients—even going so far as to say nasty things—so (Location 1620)

To use an exclamation point, to refer back to Denton’s remark, is to be final. Being final, or authoritative, or helpful, or any of these obviously positive attributes is avoided, because they don’t bait user engagement. And engaged users are where the money is. (Location 1635)

Angry enough that you must let the author know how you feel about it: You go to leave a comment. (Location 1640)

“Oh, but I wonder if my favorite person’s going to get eliminated.” So you have to watch to the end to see the elimination. In a way, that was a way of gaming time. (Location 1655)

“The fundamental purpose of most people at Facebook working on data is to influence and alter people’s moods and behaviour. They are doing it all the (Location 1660)

time to make you like stories more, to click on more ads, to spend more time on the site.” (Location 1661)

To string the customer along as long as possible, to deliberately not be helpful, is to turn simple readers into pageview-generating machines. Publishers know they have to make each new headline even more irresistible than the last, the next article even more inflammatory or less practical to keep getting clicks. (Location 1705)

History lessons can be boring but trust me, in this case, a brief one is worth it, because it unlocks a new angle of media control. Once you know how the newsmen sell their product, it becomes easier to sell them yours. (Location 1727)

Master promoters like Bennett, Pulitzer, and William Randolph Hearst delivered. Their skyrocketing circulations were driven by one thing: sensationalism. Welcome to the intersection of the One-Off Problem and ad-driven journalism. (Location 1801)

Though it varies from site to site, the biggest sources of traffic are, usually, in varying order: Google, Facebook, Twitter. The viewers were sent directly to a specific article for a disposable purpose: They’re not subscribers; they are seekers or glancers. (Location 1879)

The death of subscription means that instead of attempting to provide value to you, the longtime reader, blogs are constantly chasing Other Readers—the mythical reader out in viral land. (Location 1882)

There is this naive belief that readers have: If news is important, I’ll hear about it. I would argue the opposite—it’s mostly the least important news that will find you. (Location 1887)

Whereas subscriptions are about trust, single-use traffic is all immediacy and impulse—even if the news has to be distorted to trigger it. (Location 1893)

Blogs are all chasing the same types of stories, the mass media chase blogs, and the readers are following both of them—and everyone is led astray. (Location 1899)

If I want to be written about, I do things they have to write about. When I advised a client to shoot the book he’d just written off into space, it wasn’t for scientific exploration—it was because doing something like that is so unusual, the media couldn’t resist writing about it. (Location 1911)

we wanted to do something controversial. And all these stunts got considerable attention because the coverage was good for the outlets. They raked in all sorts of readers from (Location 1915)

For the attention. A quick run down the list of pseudo-events shows their indispensability to the news business: press releases, award ceremonies, red-carpet events, product launches, anniversaries, grand openings, “leaks,” the contrite celebrity interview after a scandal, the sex tape, the tell-all, the public statement, controversial advertisements, marches on Washington, press junkets, and on and on. (Location 1926)

are real in the sense that they do exist, but they are fake in the sense that they are completely artificial. The event is not intended to accomplish anything itself but instead to introduce certain narratives into the media. (Location 1930)

Pseudo-events are the media manipulator’s secret weapon. (Location 1932)

Because it’s planned, staged, and designed for coverage, pseudo-news is a kind of news subsidy. (Location 1934)

In a one-off world there is nothing more important than the pitch to prospective buyers. (Location 1951)

That’s where I come in. I make up the news; blogs make up the headline. (Location 1953)

Outside of the subscription model, headlines are intended not to represent the contents of articles but to sell them—to win the fight for attention against an infinite number of other blogs or papers. They must so captivate the customer that they click or plunk down the money to buy them. Each headline competes with every other headline. On a blog, every page is the front page. It’s no wonder that the headlines of the yellow press and the headlines of blogs run to such extremes. It is a desperate fight. Life or death. (Location 2029)

but in this case news is trying to be heard not just over other news but also over memes, family photos, and personal news. So it’s “PICK ME! PICK ME! IGNORE YOUR SISTER’S NEW BABY! PICK ME!” (Location 2057)

You don’t really have a choice. They aren’t going to write about you, your clients, or your story unless it can be turned into a headline that will drive traffic. You figured out the best way to do this when you were twelve years old and wanted something from your parents: (Location 2074)

The Wall Street Journal uses traffic data to decide which articles will be displayed on its homepage and for how long. Low-tracking articles are removed; heat-seeking articles get moved up. A self-proclaimed web-first paper like the Christian Science Monitor scours Google Trends for story ideas that help the paper “ride the Google wave.” (Location 2097)

A friend of mine at a big marketing agency would often run what he called the “leaderboard strategy.” If someone wrote about one of his clients, the agency would direct lots of traffic to that article until it was the most-read piece of the day on the site and featured on the leaderboard (and once there, would get additional organic traffic). (Location 2109)

If you have a large and loyal following, that’s a really attractive outlet to a potential reporter—and it can be dangled accordingly: Write something I like and I’ll share it with my audience. (Location 2121)

What gets measured gets managed, or so the saying goes. So what do publishers measure? Out of everything that can possibly be measured, blogs have picked a handful of the most straightforward and cost-effective metrics to rely on (wonderfulness is not one of them). (Location 2158)

Per the leaderboard strategy I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to turn yourself into a favorite and regular subject is to make it clear your story is a reliable traffic draw. If you’re a brand, then post the story to your company Twitter and Facebook accounts and put it on your website. (Location 2174)

Companies enjoy the spotlight at first, until the good news runs out and the blog begins to rely on increasingly spurious sources to keep the high-traffic topic on their pages. (Location 2182)

That is where the opportunity lies: Blogs are so afraid of silence that the flimsiest of evidence can confirm they’re on the right track. You can provide this by leaving fake comments to articles about you or your company from blocked IP addresses—good and bad to make it clear that there is a hot debate. (Location 2237)

According to the Huffington Post’s pageview strategy, the paid articles are indisputably better, because they generated more comments and traffic (like a 2009 article about the Iranian protests that got 96,281 comments). (Location 2249)

Sometimes I see a preposterously inaccurate blog post about a client (or myself) and I take it personally, thinking that it was malicious. (Location 2291)

one of the founders of the web, set a procedure in motion that would be copied by almost everyone after him: New stuff goes at the top. (Location 2318)

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging has a simple rule of thumb: Unless readers can see the end of your post coming around eight hundred words in, they’re going to stop. Scrolling is a pain, as is feeling like an article will never end. This gives writers around eight hundred words to make their point—a rather tight window. Even eight hundred words is pushing it, the Huffington Post says, since a block of text that big on the web can be intimidating. A smart blogger, they note, will break it up with graphics or photos, and definitely some links. (Location 2340)

the technology and personal efficiency blog Lifehacker, they can average less than ten seconds. The common wisdom is that the site has one second to make the hook. One second. (Location 2365)

Let’s just say Fuller’s advice does not have a wide following online, particularly his reminder that reporters owe a “duty to reality, not to platforms.” In fact, bloggers believe the opposite. And that sucks for everyone—except marketers. Because once you understand the limitations of the platform, the constraints can be used against the people who depend on it. The technology can be turned on itself. (Location 2425)

To get attention we had to cut it up into itty-bitty bites and spoon-feed it to readers and bloggers like babies. (Location 2432)

It makes it that much easier to create my own version of reality. I will come to them with the story. I’ll meet them on their terms, but their story will be filled with my terms. They won’t take the time or show the interest to check with anyone else. (Location 2434)

The world is boring, but the news is exciting. It’s a paradox of modern life. Journalists and bloggers are not magicians, but if you consider the material they’ve got to work with and the final product they crank out day in and day out, you must give them some credit. Shit becomes sugar. (Location 2449)

No matter how dull, mundane, or complex a topic may be, a good reporter must find the angle. Bloggers, descended from these journalists, have to take it to an entirely new level. They need to find not only the angle but the click-driving headline, an eye-catching image; generate comments and links; and in some cases, squeeze in some snark. (Location 2454)

This is their logic. As a marketer, it’s easy to fall in love with it. (Location 2478)

Give a blogger an illusory twenty-minute head start over other media sources, and they’ll write whatever you want, however you want (Location 2479)

“We’re going live with this on our website first thing in the morning,” and even the biggest blogs will forget fact-checking and make bold pronouncements on your behalf. Since bloggers must find an angle, they always do. Since you know how hard they’re looking, it’s easy to leave crumbs, fragments, or stray gems that you know will be impossible for them to resist picking up and turning into full-fledged stories. Small news is made to look like big news. (Location 2482)

The blogs that covered the story were fine with blurring the line between what happened and what almost happened or what could have happened, because it was better for business. (Location 2491)

Shamelessness is a virtue in Siegler’s world. It helps create nothing from something. It helps people at the Huffington Post stomach creating stories like “Amy Winehouse’s Untimely Death Is a Wake Up Call for Small Business Owners.” (Location 2500)

Thanks for the free publicity, guys! Random people on Twitter are not a representative sample by any measure—but it got the company in the news. God knows what it would have cost to pay to run those full-page ads in their paper. (Location 2506)

The AP, for instance, has actually started to outsource some of its reporting to India and in some cases to actual robots. When you read a short story about how the market went up three hundred points due to strong job numbers from the White House, it might be that a computer wrote that story, not a human being. (Location 2520)

Although scientific journals remain restrained by the practices and ethics of science, university websites and publicists are not. (Location 2524)

Fund “studies” that confirm what you want and then blast the internet with them. (Location 2538)

If you play in this world as a manipulator, prepare for faux outrage (which becomes real outrage) when you don’t deserve it, and expect actual violators to get off without a peep. (Location 2594)

“the controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine.” Get used to it. Because it’s true for Trump and every president. It’s why I can safely say that all the infamous American Apparel controversies were made up. Either I made them up or bloggers did. To the public, this process was all invisible. Only as an insider was I able to know that bloggers were seeing that which was not there. They had been so trained to find “big stories” that they hardly knew the difference between real and made up. (Location 2597)

They sold everything from presidential candidates to distractions they hoped would placate the public—and made (or destroyed) millions of dollars in the process. (Location 2627)

the glassware and mentioned nothing about the polish. But Carmon wasn’t actually interested in any of that, and she definitely wasn’t interested in writing an article that addressed the issue fairly. (Location 2653)

She wasn’t—she’d been totally wrong, but it didn’t matter, because the opportunity to change the readers’ minds had passed. The facts had been established. (Location 2677)

As the lawyers would say, while the nail polish company is responsible for their manufacturing errors, if not for Carmon’s needless attack and rush to judgment—the proximate cause—it all could have been worked out. (Location 2687)

From the twisting of the facts to the creation of a nonexistent story to the merciless use of attention for profit—she does what I do, what any media manipulator attempting to monetize attention does. Yet people think that journalists are universally good guys. (Location 2691)

That her story was a lie didn’t matter. That it was part of a pattern of manipulation didn’t matter. (Location 2714)

was a preemptive strike to marginalize anyone who doubted her shaky accusations and to solidify her pageview-hungry version of reality.5 (Location 2733)

Breitbart understood that the media doesn’t mind being played, because they get something out of it—namely, pageviews, ratings, and readers. (Location 2865)

that—or to print that someone is claiming that, just as it was in their interest to run the unverified dossier in the first place. (Location 2929)

It’s exactly what I would have advised him to do if he’d asked me—in fact, I’ve basically done the exact same thing, only I was a bit more vulgar. Remember, I’m the guy who put out a press release with the headline: TUCKER MAX RESPONDS TO CTA DECISION: “BLOW ME.” (Location 2946)

While this might seem like a disadvantage, it’s actually a huge opportunity, because it allows them to leverage the dismissals, anger, mockery, and contempt of the population at large as proof of their credibility. (Location 2956)

“The idea is to discourage people from drifting away. If you give them a break, they might find that there’s something else that’s just as good, and they might go away.” We once naively (Location 2991)

Van Veen pointed out in his excellent TEDx talk: They confirm what you want to be true and what you want to reflect your identity. (Location 3035)

When I saw this USA Today headline, I just shook my head: BEN CARSON JUST REFERRED TO SLAVES AS “IMMIGRANTS.” What an asshole, right? The New York Times headline is not much better: (Location 3038)

No, these links are part of an ad unit. The biggest providers in this space are companies like Taboola and Outbrain. (Location 3061)

when people come to mistake the busyness of the media with real knowledge, and confuse spending time consuming that with doing something. In 1948, long before the louder, faster, and busier world of Twitter and social media, Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton wrote: (Location 3085)

They’re happy you’re posting on social media, because it means you’re not showing up at city council meetings, because it means you’re not voting. (Location 3100)

The basic premise was that a world of twenty-four-hour media coverage would have considerable impact on foreign and domestic policy. When world leaders, generals, and politicians watch their actions—and the actions of their counterparts—dissected, analyzed, and speculated about in real time, the argument goes, it changes what they do and how they do it . . . much for the worse. (Location 3127)

Online links look like citations but rarely are. Through flimsy attribution, blogs are able to assert wildly fantastic claims that will spread well and drive comments. (Location 3245)

At its best, iterative journalism is what TechCrunch does: rile up the crowd by repeating sensational allegations and then pretend that they are waiting for the facts to come in. (Location 3282)

Hypothetically, a media manipulator for Yelp would be behind the leak, knowing that getting the rumors of the acquisition out there could help them jack up the price in negotiations. (Location 3314)

Conversely, journalists replicate one another’s conclusions and build on them—often when they are not correct. (Location 3368)

Science essentially pits the scientists against each other, each looking to disprove the work of others. This process strips out falsehoods, mistakes, and errors. (Location 3373)

inaccurate and damaging words. When the entire system is designed to quickly repeat and sensationalize whatever random information it can find, it makes sense that companies would need someone on call 24/7 to put out fires before they start. That person is often someone like me. (Location 3415)

It’s the same predicament Google found itself in when Facebook hired a high-profile PR agency to execute an anonymous whisper campaign against them through manufactured warnings about privacy. (Location 3422)

Thus begins an endless loop of online manipulation that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that’s the easiest of the PR battles a company may have to face. (Location 3430)

He exuded humble and quiet heroism that should have been recognized. (Location 3469)

Give blogs special treatment or they’ll attack you. At any time, a hole could be dug by blogs, Twitter, or YouTube that the company must pay to fill in. (Location 3481)

kompromat—releasing controversial information about public figures—is real and only more dangerous in an era where blogs publish first and verify second (if at all). (Location 3483)

service is to handle the disturbing, nasty, and corrupt dealings I’ve talked about in this book, so you don’t have to. (Location 3495)

The constant threat of being blindsided by a false controversy, or crucified unfairly for some misconstrued remark, hovers over everyone in the public sphere. (Location 3496)

It was a conversation I’d heard a thousand times and seen online almost every day. Finally I interrupted. “None of you know what you’re talking about,” I said. “None of you have been in a PR crisis. You’ve never seen how quickly they get out of hand. None of you have come to terms with the fact that sites like yours, the Huffington Post, pass along rumors as fact and rehash posts from other blogs without checking them. (Location 3551)

One of the things I noticed during the 2016 election was anytime I said something negative about Trump, I would suddenly get hit with tweets from accounts with no followers. By that I mean literally zero followers. How hard is it to get one friend? (Location 3575)

Increasingly, smart media manipulators have realized that one way to make things seem real is by straight up gaslighting. (Location 3577)

create accounts that bombard influencers like journalists with information. (Location 3579)

Write something about a company, and watch as the comments section fills up with barely literate praise. (Location 3580)

essentially disinformation via trolling. (Location 3582)

He even named specific journalists and editors he would want to go after. This was alarming to many in the media because of how closely it came on the heels of a leaked internal report from Uber about its plans to “weaponize facts” in its fight against the taxi industry. (Location 3606)

Even Trump himself was badly damaged when a clip of him recorded without his knowledge a decade earlier was leaked to the media. It’s also interesting to see how hard he was hit by the so-called Trump dossier, which made all sorts of sensational allegations about Trump’s dealings in Russia, purportedly based on high-level intelligence sources and research. (Location 3617)

The media has admitted they’re open for business and will take even the most suspect information. (Location 3629)

These acts of ritualized destruction are known by anthropologists as “degradation ceremonies.” Their purpose is to allow the public to single out and denounce one of its members. (Location 3856)

The burning passion behind such ceremonies, William Hazlitt wrote in his classic essay “On the Pleasure of Hating,” “carries us back to the feuds, the heart-burnings, the havoc, the dismay, the wrongs, and the revenge of a barbarous age and people.” You can nudge blogs toward those dangerous instincts. They love the excitement of hunting and the rush of the kill without any of the danger. In the throes of such hatred, he writes, “the wild beast resumes its sway within us.” (Location 3860)

We all have ticking away within us something we fear will badly harm our reputation if it got out—some “I’m glad I’m not that” at the end of “I’m glad I’m not me.” . . . Maybe our secret is actually nothing horrendous. Maybe nobody would even consider it a big deal if it was exposed. But we can’t take that risk. So we keep it buried. (Location 3879)

Personally, I think my work and my behavior are aboveboard. I believe my passwords and accounts to be secure. But I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Would you? (Location 3883)

Brian Williams embellishes a story or has a generous memory. Amy Pascal says something offensive in an e-mail. Jonah Lehrer self-plagiarizes. (Location 3888)

Snark is an incredibly effective weapon in enforcing norms and dismissing ideas you don’t like. Just make fun of someone until they can’t be taken seriously anymore. That’s the ethos of much of today’s media. (Location 3922)

To be called a douche or a bro or any such label is to be branded with all the characteristics of what society has decided to hate but can’t define. It’s a way to dismiss someone entirely without doing any of the work or providing any of the reasons. (Location 3965)

The always controversial and often mocked Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, once said in an interview: “Ideas are society’s fuel. I drill a lot of wells; most of them are dry. Sometimes they produce. Sometimes the well catches on fire.” We have to be able to handle that—as adults—and forgive and forget the occasional stupid remark. We can’t turn everyone into a laughingstock, or pretty soon the only type of person left will be Donald Trump.* (Location 3970)

People with nothing to lose. People who need to be talked about, like attention-hungry reality stars. (Location 3975)

The publicists could write about the product launches of their own clients, and Blodget’s site would edit and publish them. “In short,” he concluded, “please stop sending us e-mails with story ideas and just contribute directly to Business Insider. (Location 4100)

He didn’t care who wrote it, so long as it got pageviews. He was willing to let PR and marketing professionals and people like me write material about their own clients—which he would then pass off as real news and commentary to his readers. (Location 4105)

The process is simple: Create a pseudo-event, trade it up the chain, elicit real responses and action, and you have altered reality itself. (Location 4118)

You can’t count on people to restrain themselves from taking advantage of an absurd system—not with millions of dollars at stake. Not when the last line of defense—the fourth estate, known as the media—is involved in the cash grab too. (Location 4120)

what actually happens and what is staged; and, finally, between the important and the trivial.* There is no doubt in my mind that blogs and blogging culture were responsible for this final break. When blogs can openly proclaim that getting it first is better than getting it right; when a deliberately edited (fake) video can reach, and within hours require action by, the president of the United States; (Location 4123)

That world is exactly what we have now. It’s a world where, in 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney leaked bogus information to an attention-hungry reporter for the New York Times, and then mentioned his own leak on Meet the Press to help convince us to invade Iraq. (Location 4139)

citing himself, using something he had planted in the press as proof that untrue information was now “public” and accepted fact. (Location 4142)

When you see “BREAKING” or “We’ll have more details as the story develops,” know that what you’re reading reached you too soon. There was no wait-and-see, no attempt at confirmation, no internal debate over whether the importance of the story necessitated abandoning caution. (Location 4169)

When you see a story tagged “EXCLUSIVE,” know that it means the blog and the source worked out an arrangement that included favorable coverage. Know that in many cases the source gave this exclusive to multiple sites at the same time or that the site is just taking ownership of a story they stole from a lesser-known site. (Location 4185)

Words like “developing,” “exclusive,” and “sources” are incongruent with our long-held assumptions about what they mean or what’s behind them. (Location 4220)

We should be so lucky! is what I say. Journalists should think twice before publishing a sex tape that arrives to their offices in an unmarked envelope. Journalists should do actual research before running stories (Gawker would have clearly seen that Hogan had said many times that the tape was recorded without his consent). (Location 4322)

I think we’ve noticed since the Gawker ruling that there has been a kind of chilling effect on the media. Perhaps publishers have learned that actions have consequences—that freedom of speech is not necessarily freedom from responsibility. (Location 4335)

mistaken. Take the frantic chase for pageviews, for example. This wrongly assumes that the traffic blogs generate is worth anything. It isn’t. Sites sell only a fraction of their inventory each month, essentially giving the rest away for fractions of a penny, yet they attempt to grow their traffic above all else. When I wrote the conclusion the first time, the trend was for sites to auto-refresh as a way to generate extra pageviews. More recently the trend has been something called “infinite scroll,” which has the same effect. Free pageviews! The advertisers who paid for those impressions were robbed, and the blogs that charged for them are no more than crooks. (Location 4347)

Instead of speculating about these questions or judging from afar, I prefer just to ask. Why not? You don’t get infected when you interact with someone you disagree with—or have at times found obnoxious or offensive. In fact, you can usually learn something. Specifically: what makes them tick and how they do what they do (the latter being the most important). (Location 4465)

created news cycle by feeding stories to bloggers desperate for page views. Your methods differed from mine but the principle is the same. (Location 4520)

We all love drama. It’s human nature. Sport, politics, reality TV. Those all meet the same human need. You helped write a book with laws about dramas and spectacles. (Location 4537)

I certainly see controversy as an underrated strategy. Most people are afraid of it—brands don’t want to get complaints, public figures are afraid of backlash or complicated issues, etc—and so the people that can push through controversy often reap big gains very quickly. (Location 4543)

Social shaming has been used throughout human history because it works. It took me a long time to be able to laugh at the attacks, but I will be honest—It feels pretty crappy when what seems like the entire internet is lying about you. Most people are vulnerable to these attacks, and it takes time to learn how to reframe them as a positive. (Location 4564)

As Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” I don’t spread hoaxes. People may not *agree* with what I write, but it’s earnest and sincere—and in the case of Hillary Clinton’s health, usually on target. (Location 4576)

“The people” love me, despite or perhaps because of hoaxing media attacks on me. The best way to take me out would be to send me a hoax story. Despite the conspiracy theories about me, I fact-check what people send to avoid being hoaxed (or sued). (Location 4582)

My trip to the RNC and DNC sickened me. We’ve all seen Twitter pundits like Matt Yglesias and Ross Douthat hold course about what Americans think. They don’t leave Twitter. (Location 4605)

Some people might be conflicted at the story of John Bohannon, who recently revealed that he’d helped dupe millions of people into believing that chocolate was healthy. (Location 4628)