Tag Archives: email

The Charlie Sheen Twitter intern hoax – how it could be avoided

Jonny Campbell's Charlie Sheen internship hoax

Image from jonnycampbell.com

Various parts of the media were hoaxed this week by Belfast student Jonny Campbell’s claim to have won a Twitter internship with Charlie Sheen. The hoax was well planned, and to be fair to the journalists, they did chase up documentation to confirm it. Where they made mistakes provides a good lesson in online verification.

Where did the journalist go wrong? They asked for the emails confirming the internship, but accepted a screengrab. This turned out to be photoshopped.

They then asked for further emails from earlier in the process, and he sent those (which were genuine) on.

They should have asked the source to forward the original email.

Of course, he could have faked that pretty easily as well (I’m not going to say how here), so you would need to check the IP address of the email against that of the company it was supposed to be from.

An IP address is basically the location of a computer (server). This may be owned by the ISP you are using, or the company which employs you and provides your computer and internet access.

This post explains how to find IP addresses in an email using email clients including Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Outlook – and then how to track the IP address to a particular location.

This website will find out the IP address for a particular website – the IP address for Internships.com is 204.74.99.100, for example. So you’re looking for a match (assuming the same server is used for mail). You could also check other emails from that company to other people, or ideally to yourself (Watch out for fake websites as well, of course).

And of course, finally, it’s always worth looking at the content the hoaxer has provided and clues that they may have left in it – as Jonny did (see image, left).

For more on verifying online information see Content, context and code: verifying information online, which I’ll continue to update with examples.

Content, context and code: verifying information online

ContentContextCode_VerifyingInfo

When the telephone first entered the newsroom journalists were sceptical. “How can we be sure that the person at the other end is who they say they are?” The question seems odd now, because we have become so used to phone technology that we barely think of it as technology at all – and there are a range of techniques we use, almost unconsciously, to verify what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, from their tone of voice, to the number they are ringing from, and the information they are providing.

Dealing with online sources is no different. How do you know the source is telling the truth? You’re a journalist, for god’s sake: it’s your job to find out.

In many ways the internet gives us extra tools to verify information – certainly more than the phone ever did. The apparent ‘facelessness’ of the medium is misleading: every piece of information, and every person, leaves a trail of data that you can use to build a picture of its reliability.

The following is a three-level approach to verification: starting with the content itself, moving on to the context surrounding it; and finishing with the technical information underlying it. Most of the techniques outlined take very little time at all but the key thing is to look for warning signs and follow those up. Continue reading

Content, context and code: verifying information online

The full version of this post can be found here (this is a duplicate).

When the telephone first entered the newsroom journalists were sceptical. “How can we be sure that the person at the other end is who they say they are?” The question seems odd now, because we have become so used to phone technology that we barely think of it as technology at all – and there are a range of techniques we use, almost unconsciously, to verify what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, from their tone of voice, to the number they are ringing from, and the information they are providing.

Dealing with online sources is no different. How do you know the source is telling the truth? You’re a journalist, for god’s sake: it’s your job to find out.

In many ways the internet gives us extra tools to verify information – certainly more than the phone ever did. The apparent ‘facelessness’ of the medium is misleading: every piece of information, and every person, leaves a trail of data that you can use to build a picture of its reliability. Continue reading

BASIC Principles of Online Journalism: C is for Community & Conversation (pt2: Conversation)

Continuing the final part of this series (part 1: Community is here) I look at conversation. I look at why conversation is becoming a form of publishing itself, why journalists need to be a part of that conversation, and a range of ways they can join in. Continue reading

Get webpages emailed to you (Something for the Weekend #11)

There are a number of services that allow you to receive web pages by e-mail. These include Web2Mail; PageGetter.com; and WebToMail

All you do is send an email to the address used by the service with the URL of the web page you want in the subject line. After a few minutes (they say) you receive the web page in HTML format in your email.

How is this useful? I can think of a number of ways: Continue reading

Something for the Weekend #8: the easiest blogging platform in the world: Posterous

Assuming you want them to, how do you get people to blog? It’s a challenge facing most community editors, particularly as they seek to encourage a conversation with readers for whom WordPress or Blogger are still too fiddly.

Enter Posterous, a fantastically intuitive, quick and easy blogging platform. Scrapping the need for registration, or even the need to go onto the web, this has the potential to be a mass blogging tool – as well as a great tool for blogging on the move. Continue reading

Something for the weekend #3: email meets RSS (9cays)

This week’s Something for the Weekend is email tool 9cays. At a basic level it’s a tool to help you improve group email conversations – like a mailing list with bells on. The service makes it easier to copy (cc) in people, and creates a permanent webpage so people can catch up on previous emails if they’ve just joined. But what makes 9cays interesting to me is that it also provides an RSS feed.

Having an RSS feed opens up a number of journalistic possibilities. Here are just some:

  • You could carry out an email interview with a public figure – or a number of public figures – and allow people to subscribe directly to the correspondence.
  • Or you could display the feed on your news site.
  • You could aggregate a number of feeds from different conversations on the same topic
  • Likewise you could use it to display correspondence with readers by cc’ing the 9cays conversation email address in your replies (this would however, sign them up to future emails).
  • You could ask readers to cc the address in their correspondence with public figures (warning: issues around privacy and ethics here)
  • If you don’t have a comments RSS feed you could set up your CMS to forward comments to the 9cays address to create one.
  • Alternatively, you could set up your email account to filter comments from your blog and forward them to different 9cays addresses for different feeds (probably too much effort, but an idea nonetheless)
The fact that it’s email makes this particularly accessible for non-web-savvy readers, too. Your ideas?