Yahoo and AP Caught Manipulating User Comments
It was like déjà vu all over again. I’d go from one Yahoo article to another and notice that regardless of the subject matter, the first user comment was always the same — at least on AP articles covering the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The comment that kept reappearing was posted by “Robert” and it was a one liner. “Hamas is now in control of the Gaza Strip after winning an election there against Abbas Palestinian Authority.” That was it. Fair enough — I’ve got no quarrel with the messenger or the message. But somehow that one comment generated an incredible 184 responses and, last I checked, readers had given it 3212 thumbs up and 2525 thumbs down.
I got a little curious about why Robert’s one liner had generated so much controversy. I’ve written hundreds of articles and never got anywhere near that kind of attention. Frankly, I was full of envy. How did ‘Robert’ pull this off with one miserly line? Then I noticed the strangest thing: it was dated March 09, 2010. The comment was two months old and was the lead comment of 40,000 responses. That seemed a little high considering the fact that the AP article I was reading had only been posted for thirty minutes.
What were Yahoo and AP up to? The answer is simple; they were porting comments from one article to another and, in this particular case, they’ve been doing it for two months. It took a little research till I realized that the first few hundred comments were related to Biden’s ill-fated visit to Jerusalem. It was an ancient story and quite unrelated to the posting I was reading which was a slanted AP article white washing the murderous Israeli assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.