Many of the world’s most reputable news organisations have been stung by a fake press release claiming that new research showed that users of Internet Explorer had lower IQs than people who used other browsers. The BBC, CNN, Forbes, The Daily Mail and The Telegraph all fell for the elaborate hoax. The research appeared to be put out by Canadian firm AqTiquant, but it has now been discovered that the company’s website was only set-up in the past month and that the staff photos were apparently just copied from the website of a legitimate French company.
In all the debate about what constitutes ‘proper’ journalism, ethical public relations and citizen journalists it’s worrying to see how this story slipped through the net.
And just as an aside lots of journalists condemn PR commissioned surveys as a waste of time, but as this incident shows they work even when they are 100% fake!