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Magda Hassan
06-07-2010, 02:08 PM
Documentation Supporting Allegations that Yahoo and AP Manipulate User Content

by Ahmed Amr / June 5th, 2010
Forward Note: On June 3, 2010, Dissident Voice published an article (http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/06/yahoo-and-ap-caught-manipulating-user-comments/#more-17858) I wrote alleging that Yahoo and AP regularly manipulate user content. I also raised the question of whether Yahoo and AP were coordinating their activities and whether the AP journalists who wrote the articles were aware of distortion and manipulation of user feedback. I have been challenged to provide proof by a few DV readers and by other posters on sites that republished the Dissident Voice article. It’s ironic and even extraordinary that the exposure of mass media manipulation is being challenged on progressive sites and we can only speculate about the motivation of the posters who are not only taking issue with my allegations but are challenging my mental health. So in the interest of proving that I have been cured and no longer reside in an insane asylum, I’m providing documentation to back up my allegations. Before publishing the incriminating material on Dissident voice, I emailed it to AP and contacted Yahoo to get feedback to allow them a fair opportunity to explain their misconduct. I have yet to get a response. The following is part of the documentation I sent to AP.
First Email Sent to the Associated Press
Gentlemen: Regarding the allegations of Yahoo’s manipulation of user comments on AP articles. I would like to submit the following questions. If you would be kind enough to forward me the answers, I would greatly appreciate it.
1. How long has the porting of thousands of comments been going on?
2. Why is it going on?
3. Why does Yahoo only port comments on some AP articles? You don’t find this on articles from the AFP or Reuters or articles from any other source.
4. What it is Yahoo’s criteria for porting up to 50,000 comments from one article to another and does AP news staff get involved in the process?
5. Is this policy approved by Yahoo’s and AP’s managers or is it a rogue operation by individuals in the Yahoo News department?
6. Are there any kind of agreements between AP and Yahoo that promotes this kind of behavior?
7. Are the AP reporters named in the article aware of this practice and if not how could they have failed to notice?
8. Is it possible to give me contact information for the journalists named in the article so I can get personal feedback from them?
I look forward to hearing back from you.
warm regards
Ahmed Amr
Second Email Sent to the Associated Press
Gentlemen: Just so we’re clear about the evidence of my allegations. I have a couple of links to verify that tens of thousands of user comments have been ported from one article to the next and remain attached to the articles to which they were ported. On all these articles the first comment that appears is the oldest comment. In this case, a comment from a user identified as Robert. The date stamp on his comment is – Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:47 am PST. If you click on the responses to Robert’s one line comment, you will see that I have been placing an audit trail for a few days now by responding to Roberts comments from different articles. So my audit trail is being ported too. Thanks for the lift. Now please verify the accuracy of my allegations and provide me with a response to the questions I’ve already sent you. I would also like to make contact with your legal department and with some of the AP journalists I have identified in my recent article “Yahoo and AP Caught Manipulating User Content.”
1. Israel’s use of captured video draws criticism – AP article posted on June 3 9:58 EST – By Amy Teibel
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_118
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
2. Israel rejects international investigation of raid – AP article posted on June 3 8:09 Am EST – By Amy Teibel
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_117
3. Israel Trying To Limit Diplomatic Damage From Raid – AP article posted on 12:00 am EST – by Mark Lavie
Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Jerusalem and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_114
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
4. Israel to Expel All Activists by Day’s End by Amy Teibel – AP article posted on June 2, 11:44 AM – By Amy Teibel
Associated Press Writers Dale Gavlak at Allenby Bridge, Jordan, and Karin Laub in Jerusalem, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100602/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_111
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
5. Protesters march in Istanbul, denounce Israel AP Mon May 31, 5:40 am ET
Goldenberg reported from aboard the INS Kidon. AP writer Selcan Hacaoglu contributed to this report from Ankara.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_53 (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_53)
6. Pro-Palestinian flotilla sets sail for Gaza AP Sun May 30, 9:27 am ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_53 (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_53)
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
7. Israeli airstrike kills 3 militants in north Gaza
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100601/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_87
8. Masked men vandalize UN summer camp for Gaza kids AP Tue Jun 1, 9:54 am ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100523/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians_17
Comment Count as of this email – 50,474
I put in an Audit Trail to verify my allegations. I responded to the first comment from a number of articles and my comments were not only ported forward, they were ported backwards. And some of the comments that are being ported backwards just happen to be mine. And I have presented the audit trail as exhibits.
All my responses were to the oldest comment in the string, the one that appears first – given your default settings. It was posted by a user identified as ‘Robert.’ It is a one line comment (Hamas is now in control of the Gaza Strip after winning an election there against Abbas’ Palestinian Authority). Robert’s comment was posted on Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:47 am PST.
Note all the comments I placed in the audit trail were posted on or after Mon, May 31, 2010. But I am accessing all these comments from an AP article “Masked men vandalize UN summer camp for Gaza kids”. It’s time stamped AP Tue Jun 1, 9:54 am ET
Question: What is a comment like Robert’s which was time stamped March 09 doing on AP Article time stamped May 31 and June 1? And what is my Comment time stamped May 31, 2010 doing in an article published on the following day? I’m sure you’ll see what I mean as you review the following exhibits.
Audit Trail Exhibit 1:
Comment time stamped Mon May 31, 2010 09:49 pm PDT.
To the boys in the backroom. This is in response to the first comment in an article that was titled this comment was posted on an Associated Press article “Abbas Says No Need to Quit Peace Talks.” It doesn’t have a name on it but the dateline is Ramallah, West Bank. It was posted “20 minutes” ago and purported to be 1 out of 39,733 comments. The interesting thing about it is it is in response to a comment that was posted March 09, 2010, seven weeks before this article was published. The articles are completely unrelated.
Now we have a complete audit trail. Let’s see where you port it next. Tell your legal department I’m working over time today.
Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Seriously, what kind of bonus do you Hasbara guys get? I told you I was charming.
Audit Trail Exhibit 2:
Comment time stamped Mon May 31, 2010 10:25 pm PDT
To the boys in the back room. I just did a search and found the 40,000 comments had been ported to this article. See how it’s done. All you have to do to establish a trail is to comment on where you found the article. “Aide: Abbas says no need to quit peace talks”
Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Please inform the AP, your legal department and the journalists involved in this scam.
Audit Trail Exhibit 3:
Comment time stamped Mon May 31, 2010 10:32 pm PDT
To the boys in the back room. A few minutes later I find the same comments ported to this article. “Bloody Israeli raid on flotilla sparks crisis” by Steven Gutkin, Also of the AP.
Watch how I establish an audit trail.
Audit Trail Exhibit 4:
Comment Time stamped: Tue Jun 01, 2010 04:54 am PDT
To the boys in the back room. This comment was posted from another article titled “New boats headed to Gaza to challenge blockade” – an unattributed AP article published on June 1, 2009. So, the 40,000 comments were ported to this site.
So now we have documented evidence that these comments, with were ported to the following three articles. This comment was posted from the first article.
1. New boats headed to Gaza to challenge blockade – AP article dated June 1, 2010 posted 2 Am
2. “Aide: Abbas says no need to quit peace talks” – AP article dated May 31, 2010
Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
3. “Bloody Israeli raid on flotilla sparks crisis” by Steven Gutkin, Also AP, May 31, 2001, 2010
Audit Trail Exhibit 5:
This comment is time stamped – Tue Jun 01, 2010 04:59 am PDT
To the boys in the back room. This comment was posted from another article titled “New boats headed to Gaza to challenge blockade” – an unattributed AP article published on June 1, 2009. So, the 40,000 comments were ported to this site.
So now we have documented evidence that these comments, with were ported to the following three articles. This comment was posted from the first article.
1. New boats headed to Gaza to challenge blockade – AP article dated June 1, 2010 posted 2 Am
2. “Aide: Abbas says no need to quit peace talks” – AP article dated May 31, 2010
Associated Press Writers Tia Goldenberg aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
3. “Bloody Israeli raid on flotilla sparks crisis” by Steven Gutkin, Also AP, May 31, 2001, 2010
Audit Trail Exhibit 6:
Comment time stamped: Tue Jun 01, 2010 05:34 am PDT
To the boys in the back room, just so we keep the audit trail in Sync – the 40,000 plus comments have now been ported to yet another article posted 6 minutes ago “Egypt lifts its side of Gaza blockade for aid.” It’s still June 1, 2010. And it’s yet another AP article.
Audit Trail Exhibit 7:
Comment time stamped Tue Jun 01, 2010 05:46 am PDT
To the boys in the back room. Now you’re deleting the audit trail. Well, more evidence that you know exactly what you were doing. Porting 40,000 – sorry 41,000 comments – dating back to March 09 from one AP article to another. This comment was posted on the message board of a story posted on June 1, 2010 – 17 minutes ago as of this writing. It’s the same comment stream that was attached to three other articles.
Now, I warned you a few days ago that I would be conducting a forensic examination. Delete my articles at will. But make sure you advise your legal department that I tried to establish an audit trail to prove how you port tens of thousands of messages from one article to another. Now I have concrete proof that you have been doing exactly that with this stream of comments and you’ve been doing it since March 09, 2010.
Audit Trail Exhibit 8:
Comment time stamped Wed Jun 02, 2010 01:04 am PDT
To the boys in the back room. The number of comments ported is now over 45,000. This comment is being posted from the latest article to which the comments were ported. It is titled – ‘Israel deports activists from Gaza-bound flotilla’ another AP article.
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer Amy Teibel, Associated Press Writer – 36 mins ago
Audit Trail Exhibit 9:
Comment time stamped Wed Jun 02, 2010 07:33 am PDT
To the boys in the backroom, you’ve been porting these comments from one article to another since March 09, 2010. That’s going on two months. And the number of comments you keep attaching has grown to over 46,000. So the audit trail continues. Please advise your legal department that this audit trail is being documented.
This comment is posted to yet another AP article titled “Israel to expel all activists by day’s end”
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer Amy Teibel, Associated Press Writer – 41 mins ago
Associated Press Writers Dale Gavlak at Allenby Bridge, Jordan, and Karin Laub in Jerusalem, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.
Audit Trail Exhibit 10:
To the Boys in the back room – this article is titled ” Israel’s use of ‘captured’ video draws criticism.”
This number of comments is now up to 50,056. This thread dates back to March 09, 2010. But you knew that already.
Check out an article titled “Yahoo and AP caught Manipulating User Comments.”
Tell your legal department I just placed another audit marker.
Conclusions: Yahoo has been porting tens of thousands of user comments on AP articles forwards and backwards. The question is why? I’ve sent you a number of questions in an earlier email and would appreciate a response. I think that the documented evidence I have accumulated clearly documents that Yahoo and AP have been selectively manipulating comments. The least you can do is offer a rationale for why you do this.
Warm Regards
Ahmed Amr
Forensic Analyst
Author of The Sheep and the Guardians – Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle

http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/06/documentation-supporting-allegations-that-yahoo-and-ap-manipulate-user-content/