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Fake WikiLeaks op-ed targets New York Times' Bill Keller

It looks real, but the URL is a giveaway that the Web page did not originate from the people of The New York Times.

2 min read

An opinion piece that appears to be by former New York Times editor Bill Keller on what appears to be the New York Times Web site is a fake.

The editorial urges Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to take a "stand against the use of financial embargos to prohibit supporters from contributing or subscribing to media organizations protected by the First Amendment and free speech laws." The fake op-ed was drafted as a follow up to a February 2012 op-ed by Keller titled "Wikileaks, A Postscript."

The URL for the fake column was a giveaway to what is a near perfect replica of a New York Times page.

The prank URL: http://www.opinion-nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/keller-a-post-postscript.html

An authentic New York Times URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/

Keller tweeted that the op-ed did not come from his computer, and confirmed the fake to ATD's Peter Kafka:

Ah, the social media hall of mirrors. Yes, the "WL Post-Postscript" Op-Ed is a fake. (Though it steals a few lines from my exchange a few days ago with Matthew Ingram, which was real.) My tweet calling the fake tweet a fake was real. This tweet assuring you that the tweet about the fake tweet is not fake is also real. All clear now, right? Good. It's been real.

New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton tweeted the fake Keller editorial to his followers, and after learning of the "hall of mirrors" deleted the tweet.

This episode exemplifies the old Internet adage, "On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog," and the ease with which a clever prankster can wreak havoc. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the prank.