In summary, Lyndon Antcliff posted a satirical story on a client’s site, which ended up being quoted on several mainstream news channels. Critics have claimed that Lyndon manipulated these sources by not labeling the material as fake, in order to gain links for his client. In his defense, none of these news channels or reporters seem to have tried to check the legitimacy of the story.
This is hardly the first time news channels have carried fake news. For example, FoxNews, the main channel to carry Lyndon’s story was reprimanded in 2004 for placing fabricated quotes attributed to John Kerry on their website.
My quick take is that Google’s webmaster guidelines allow for cases such as this:
“Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it.”
There’s not much more deceptive or misleading than a fake story without any disclosure that the story is hoax.
Does this mean penalties for misleading information on websites? This certainly opens the doors to a whole host of issues, from fake reviews to less than honest product marketing. Also, can we expect to see the FoxNews website suffering any penalties in the near future?