A chilling USA Today story Misinformation campaign targets USA TODAY reporter, editor is currently dominating the Muck Rack Newsroom:
“A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.”
Everyone is vulnerable to misinformation attacks on the web, but journalists who haven’t put effort into building their digital identities are particularly at risk. For example, both of the victims hadn’t spent $10 to buy their domain names:
“Internet domain registries show the website TomVandenBrook.com was created Jan. 7 — just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker’s byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site, RayLocker.com, through the same company.”
As a result, the bogus site is still the 4th non-news Google result for Tom Vanden Brook:
Had this news not broken, the fake site would have been the first non-USA Today result for Tom’s name.
Had Tom set up a site on his own domain name, a Twitter profile and a Muck Rack profile, it’s unlikely a bogus site would have so quickly made it to the first page of Google results for his name.
We’ve said before that journalists owe it to their readers not to be phished. They also need to be proactive about establishing their digital identities before someone else does.
FJP: Abide this Muck Rack pro tip.