Anonymous has released a statement denying responsibility for Thursday’s Facebook slowdown and agreeing withe the Menlo Park company that there was in fact no attack at all. The group blamed the rumors that they were behind the attack on two things, one a simple event and the other a cultural problem in the media.
The simple event was a tweet sent out by @YourAnonNews after the news broke that Facebook was having problems. The account appeared to claim responsibility for the attacks. The official statement from Anonymous asserts that that particular twitter account is not representative of the group’s global operations. There is also a history of unsupported hacking claims from that particular account.
That would not have been a problem if the press had done its job properly according to Anonymous. They are correct in the absolute. I myself wrote an article attesting that Anonymous claimed responsibility with nothing to go on but that tweet. There was a laziness among fact checkers, writers and editors yesterday when that news was reported. That happened at the base level.
The next problem was the rereporting of news based on articles done by the larger mainstream sites. This led the original big news sources falseness to be disseminated among all of the other news sources. Nobody, including myself, took a second look at what was being reported. The fact that it had been reported somehow made it true.
This is obviously a greater problem on the Internet than it is in the traditional media. Internet news has to be lightning fast and so is light on editing and fact checking. That is a trade off that defines the entire industry.
Yesterday’s problem was not a simple wrong fact, however. There was only one fact and one source involved in the entire story. Nobody tried to verify its veracity. Perhaps it was because the entire story took place on the internet and only involved internet players. If that is the case it still doesn’t excuse the laziness and incompetence of all involved. That includes myself.
There was no attack on Facebook last Thursday. The company suffered from an internal problem that slowed down user’s connections and refused access to many of them. It doesn’t happen often but it happens often enough that it was a possibility.
The entire media messed up on the Anonymous story yesterday. Lessons need to be learned.