All That’s Fit to Shoot

Bad Fan Fiction

Michael Jackson’s estate targets erotic fan fiction with series of copyright complaints

According to the Lumen Database, Jackson’s estate recently hired self-proclaimed “Web Sheriff,” British IP lawyer John Giacobbi, to scrub a blogger’s erotic fan fiction about the late singer.

John Giacobbi (source)

The targeted blog, MJ Fan Fictions, includes “semi-erotic adventures” about Jackson and the blog’s owner, Trinette Rani Johnson.

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Here’s a particularly inspiring sample of Johnson’s work:

Daryl [Jackson’s character from the Bad video] was enjoying himself too much. He was off from school and his mother wasn’t home from work. His new girlfriend wasn’t home either. He had on his stereo to the sounds of Stevie Wonder. He had eaten dinner and was about to take a shower. He took his shirt off first revealing his taunt tan chest, perky little nipples, define muscles, and his outtie belly button.

If that does it for you, you can read more by clicking here.

Citing U.S. copyright law, Giacobbi has requested that Google delist Johnson’s blog because “the use of the copyrighted materials…is not authorised by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.”

The complaint is part of an ongoing series of legal efforts to purge Google’s blogosphere of Jackson fan erotica, described in a separate complaint as a subculture of “libellous innuendo” and “obscene and malicious falsehoods.”

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Info-Warring (Part II)

International Business Times files copyright complaint against conspiracy website InfoWars

In February, I blogged about a series of DMCA copyright complaints filed against U.S. conspiracy website InfoWars.

The complaints by pro-gun news website AmmoLand, Danish-run news website nsnbc international, plus a third accusation of content scraping by Cincinnati survivalist website On Point Preparedness, claimed that InfoWars republished their content without permission.

InfoWars founder Alex Jones (source)

Yesterday, BuzzFeed News broke the news that “InfoWars has republished more than 1,000 articles from RT without permission”:

Over the past three years, conspiracy site InfoWars has copied more than 1,000 articles produced by Russian state-sponsored broadcaster RT to its website — all without the permission of RT.

According to data from social sharing tracking website BuzzSumo, there were at least 1,014 RT articles republished on InfoWars since May of 2014. The articles appeared on InfoWars with a byline credit to RT, but a spokesperson for the Russian broadcaster told BuzzFeed News that InfoWars did not have permission to re-publish its content.

RT is not the only outlet InfoWars copied content from. A search on BuzzSumo shows there are articles copied from CNN, Sputnik, Breitbart, CNS News, the Blaze, CBC, BBC, Vice, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Post, LA Times, BuzzFeed, and others. RT’s articles, however, seem to be the most numerous.

Adding to that list is the International Business Times (recently rebranded Newsweek Media Group).

According to the Lumen Database, a website that collects and analyses online takedown requests, the business news publication recently sent Google a copyright complaint claiming that “InfoWars often [uses] our content without approval and incorrectly attribute canonical owership [sic] to themselves”:

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According to BuzzFeed, InfoWars has not replied to multiple requests for comment.

Caputo Gets Streisanded

The Washington Post covers Shooting the Messenger scoop re: Efforts by ex-Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo to scrub Russia from his Wikipedia bio

On Monday, The Daily Beast reported my scoop that Caputo paid his PR firm to purge Wikipedia of evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

Yesterday, The Washington Post covered the story as part of its daily round-up. Via “The Daily 202” by James Hohmann, The Washington Post, November 8, 2017:

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— An employee of former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo was blocked from Wikipedia in August after the site’s editors said he was caught using multiple pseudonymous accounts to scrub the page of Caputo’s ties to Vladimir PutinThe Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay reports: “After the accounts were exposed as what Wikipedia calls ‘sock puppets’ — multiple accounts run by the same person as part of a coordinated editing campaign —[the employee, Sean Dwyer], admitted he had financial ties to the subjects of his edits. It’s just the latest front in Caputo’s battles to save his reputation from, what he sees as, Russian smears. He also says he has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) over comments at a congressional hearing in March, where the California Democrat accused Caputo of having been Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ‘image consultant[.’]”

Wikipedia Offers Assistance to Ex-Trump “Wiki-Sneak”

Wikipedia invites ex-Trump adviser Michael Caputo “to one of our DC editing events to learn how to use Wikipedia properly” after he gets busted trying to scrub his online bio

Last week, I blogged about Caputo’s attempts to purge Wikipedia of evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

Michael Caputo (source)

Via “Ex-Trump Aide Frantically Scrambles to Scrub Russia From Bio” by Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast, November 6, 2017:

[Zeppelin Communications executive Sean Dwyer’s] editing campaign, which was first reported by independent blogger Dean Sterling Jones, shows that…he repeatedly attempted to remove language from the page that tied [former Trump adviser Michael Caputo’s] work for Gazprom to any efforts to burnish Putin’s reputation abroad.

[…]

Caputo denied that Dwyer had run afoul of any Wikipedia guidelines. “Sean has done nothing wrong except engage with Wikipedia according to their rules, which apparently put him in the sights of a wanker trolling me from his mommy’s basement,” he said.

Today, Wikipedia invited Caputo “or anyone in politics” to “come to one of our DC editing events to learn how to use Wikipedia properly.”

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From this tweet, it appears that Caputo has accepted the invite:

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The Daily Beast Busts Ex-Trump “Wiki-Sneak”

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo takes swipe at me in The Daily Beast for blogging about his campaign to scrub Russia from his Wikipedia bio

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Via “Ex-Trump Aide Frantically Scrambles to Scrub Russia From Bio” by Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast, November 6, 2017:

Former Donald Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo is determined to prove that he did not work for Vladimir Putin, and he’s using every tool at his disposal to do so—from a congressional ethics complaint, to a defamation lawsuit, to a surreptitious Wikipedia edit campaign.

Sean Dwyer, an employee of Caputo’s PR firm, Zeppelin Communications, was blocked from Wikipedia in August after he was caught using multiple pseudonymous accounts to purge Caputo’s page of alleged Putin ties, according to an investigation by the site’s editors. After the accounts were exposed as what Wikipedia calls “sock puppets”—multiple accounts run by the same person as part of a coordinated editing campaign—Dwyer admitted he had financial ties to the subjects of his edits.

[…]

Given what Caputo characterizes as widespread—and even malicious—misrepresentations of his work in Russia, “Wikipedia inaccuracies barely even make it on my radar,” he said.

And yet, Dwyer’s editing campaign, which was first reported by independent blogger Dean Sterling Jones, shows that Caputo was at least aware of the claims and determined to purge them. Dwyer did so through four different “sock puppet” accounts, according to Wikipedia’s investigation, and edit logs show he repeatedly attempted to remove language from the page that tied Caputo’s work for Gazprom to any efforts to burnish Putin’s reputation abroad.

Though it’s fairly common, “sock-puppetry is one of the cardinal sins of Wikipedia,” according to William Beutler, the president of digital marketing firm Beutler Ink and a longtime personal and professional Wikipedia editor. “We do this legitimately every day. But our approach is different from what they do here,” Beutler said in an interview. Unlike Dwyer, “we disclose who our clients are at the starting point.”

Caputo denied that Dwyer had run afoul of any Wikipedia guidelines. “Sean has done nothing wrong except engage with Wikipedia according to their rules, which apparently put him in the sights of a wanker trolling me from his mommy’s basement,” he said.

I deny all accusations that I live in my mother’s basement.

Update, 7/11/2017: The story was subsequently covered by Raw Story here, Wonkette here, and Just Security here.

Caputo: Caught in the Web

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo paid his own PR firm to purge Wikipedia of his long-standing political ties to Russia

Michael Caputo (source)

According to Wikipedia editing records, Caputo recently paid Zeppelin Communications, a PR firm he co-founded in 2015 with Russian club owner Sergey George Petrushin, to delete evidence that he helped promote Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.

The edits were made two weeks after Caputo testified privately to the House Intelligence Committee about Donald Trump’s “tarantula web” of ties to Russia.

Caputo was brought onto Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as communications adviser by his close associate, political strategist Paul Manafort.

Paul Manafort (source)

On Monday, Manafort was indicted on 12 charges including “conspiracy against the United States” as part of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining allegations of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

In July, Caputo’s firm launched a disruptive editing campaign to delete “disputed information” about his personal life and political career from Wikipedia, including his previous admission to The Buffalo News that in 2000 he was hired by pro-Russian news network Gazprom Media “to burnish Putin’s image in the United States.

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The firm also sought to add its own “properly sourced information” about Caputo, including that he “denies ever working for Putin, and scoffs at…accusations that he was ‘Putin’s image maker.’”

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Other noteworthy additions to Caputo’s life and career include that “he lived aboard a tugboat with a parrot,” and that his “work on high-profile campaigns drew attention because of his trademark use of volunteers in chicken suits and deploying strippers outside a debate.”

In August, an investigation by Wikipedia administrators determined that the edits were made by one person using multiple sockpuppet accounts.

The culprit, using the pseudonym “Baldassn,” subsequently admitted that they had been “paid by Zeppelin Communications on behalf of Michael R. Caputo” to make the edits.

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Zeppelin Communications PR account executive Sean Dwyer, who shares his last name with the main sock account, “DwyerSP,” and whose Twitter handle is “@DwyerSP,” appears to be the person behind the accounts.

Snopes Chews Up False Cheeseburger Emoji Story

Award-winning fact-checking website Snopes cites my blog post debunking Fox News “cheeseburger emoji controversy”

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Earlier this week I debunked claims that Fox News failed to report former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s indictment in favour of a story about cheeseburger emojis.

The post has been cited by award-winning fact-checking website Snopes.

From the “About” page of Snopes website:

The Snopes.com web site was founded by David Mikkelson, a project begun in 1994 as an expression of his interest in researching urban legends that has since grown into the oldest and largest fact-checking site on the Internet, one widely regarded by journalists, folklorists, and laypersons alike as one of the world’s essential resources. Snopes.com is routinely included in annual “Best of the Web” lists and has been the recipient of two Webby awards. Snopes.com personnel have made multiple appearances as guests on national news programs such as 20/20ABC World NewsCNN Sunday Morning, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and they and their work have been profiled in numerous major news publications, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, and Reader’s Digest.

With over 20 years’ experience as a professional researcher and writer, David has created in Snopes.com what has come to be regarded as an online touchstone of rumor research. The site’s work has been described as painstaking, scholarly, and reliable, and has been lauded by the world’s top folklorists, including Jan Harold BrunvandGary Alan Fine, and Patricia Turner. Hundreds of the site’s articles have been cited by authors in a variety of disciplines, and various of their articles have been published in textbooks currently in use in the U.S. and Canadian school systems.

Via “Did Fox News Ignore News of Paul Manafort’s Indictment and Cover a Cheeseburger Emoji Controversy Instead?” by Kim LaCapria, Snopes, October 30, 2017:

Conservative news did not make a meal of a silly emoji story about cheeseburgers instead of covering the federal investigation into alleged Russian election tampering.

[…]

Although it appears that the meme began as a joke about Fox News covering a cheeseburger emoji controversy in lieu of the topical events surrounding Paul Manafort, it quickly became something people on social media believed was literally the case.

Independent fact-checking site Shooting the Messenger moved quickly to debunk the story:

But did the famously Trump-friendly news network really fail to report Manafort’s indictment in favour of Google’s apparent emoji cheeseburger crisis?

The answer, unfortunately for Hannity-haters everywhere, is no.

As this clip from this morning’s Fox & Friends shows, the bulk of airtime was spent in anticipation of the indictment, with the emoji story briefly appearing to pad out the show between updates….

The story later made an appearance as part of a brief news round-up that aired immediately before a commercial break.

By comparison, CNN also covered the emoji debate, yet Twitter focused on the early morning show’s comprehensive coverage of the Manafort news.

Click here to read the full article.

Brittain Gets Streisanded (Again)

Techdirt reports my post about Arizona Senate candidate/former revenge pornster Craig R. Brittain’s most recent efforts to delete criticism about himself from the web

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Via “Craig Brittain’s Senate Race Page Reports Craig Brittain’s Personal Account As An ‘Imposter’” by Tim Cushing, Techdirt, October 31, 2017:

Former revenge porn site owner Craig Brittain is now a Senate candidate in Arizona. He’s not a viable candidate, mind you, not even with Arizona senator Jeff Flake recently announcing his retirement. But he has filed the proper paperwork and is now engaged in a charm offensive offensive offensive to win the hearts and minds of whatever demographic feels the public would be best served by someone who reacts to every perceptible slight with unhinged personal attacks.

As a former revenge porn entrepreneur, Brittain has a bit more pre-run reputation management to engage in than most candidates. Just shortly after his candidacy was announced, Brittain issued two bogus “privacy” takedown requests targeting videos criticizing his ridesharing vaporware and his voluntary interview with journalists about his revenge porn site operations.

Brittain followed this up with more reputation mismanagement, raining down insults on a Twitter user who dared to unfollow him. He’s continued to poll the electorate in similar ways on Facebook, telling people they’re wrong about everything if they don’t agree with him, but especially about free speech and the concept of consent.

That’s what’s happening above ground. Behind the scenes at Facebook, Craig Brittain is engaged in more bogus takedown efforts, this time in an attempt to scrub the web of a string of insults he sent to a woman via Facebook Messenger. The following comes from Shooting the Messenger, with an assist by Asher Langton.

Click here to read the full article.

Manafort Indictment: A Big Nothing Burger Emoji?

Did Fox News fail to report former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s indictment in favour of a story about cheeseburger emojis?

Today saw the first charges in the investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is examining allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Yet while CNN and other news networks reported about the imminent indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Fox News was reporting a story about…cheeseburger emojis?

That’s according to photos and screenshots that were circulating on Twitter this morning.

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And it wasn’t just Twitter users helping spread the story.

Here’s The New York Daily News reporting that “The big story at @FoxNews today isn’t Paul Manafort’s indictment – it’s the ‘emoji cheeseburger crisis’”:

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But did the famously Trump-friendly news network really fail to report Manafort’s indictment in favour of Google’s apparent emoji cheeseburger crisis?

The answer, unfortunately for Hannity-haters everywhere, is no.

As this clip from this morning’s Fox & Friends shows, the bulk of airtime was spent in anticipation of the indictment, with the emoji story briefly appearing to pad out the show between updates:

The story later made an appearance as part of a brief news round-up that aired immediately before a commercial break. That’s when this screenshot started making the rounds on Twitter:

However, the show then returned a few minutes later with a breaking news alert about Manafort.

Fair and Balanced? Perhaps not. But this nothing burger appears to be a whopper.

PR Battle of Brittain (Redux)

Facebook deletes post criticising Arizona Senate candidate/former revenge pornster Craig R. Brittain after Brittain reports himself to website administrators

I recently blogged about the PR battles of Craig R. Brittain, a former revenge porn website operator who last month announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate.

From 2011 until 2013, Brittain operated the controversial revenge porn website IsAnybodyDown?, which encouraged users to anonymously submit non-consensual nude photos along with identifying information about the persons in the photos, including their full name, home address, and Facebook screenshots.

Craig R. Brittain (source)

The site was shut down after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) determined that Brittain had hosted fake lawyer advertisements on the site using the name “David Blade III” in order to trick victims into paying hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed.

Earlier this week, Phoenix-based social media expert Michael Palladino posted potentially damaging screenshots of abusive messages Brittain allegedly sent to a woman on Facebook last year.

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If you can’t read that it says:

A woman I know got these messages early last year from a guy who is now running for AZ senate. He most likely doesn’t stand a chance against Ward or Krysten Sinema but the fact that he’s running at all is disgusting given the kind of guy he is. And now that Flake is out, he might get more media visibility. So it’s important that this shit is known.

He has his supporters and their response to things like this is that he’s the victim of some kind of conspiratorial hoax revenge machine, as if he would be so important as to catch the eye of the Illuminati or the Lizard People or whoever they think is responsible for their lives being shit. Or they agree with his views on women. Or they just don’t care.

Applauding anti-politicians who “tell it like it is” and “don’t care about being P.C.” can easily become the shallow backyard pool that breeds diseased mosquitoes like this.

Enough is enough. Fuck this.

The post was subsequently deleted without explanation.

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Here’s what Palladino sent me when I asked him about the deletion:

Hi Dean, thanks for reaching out. In the middle of posting I was logged out and when I was able to get back in I was shown a message saying that I posted something that violated FB’s TOS. Specifically in regards to bullying or attacking, I believe was the term they used. It apparently was reported by someone anonymously but I think I know who that person was.

Facebook and Brittain didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but here’s what Brittain posted on Facebook shortly after Palladino’s post disappeared:

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If you can’t read that it says: “We’ve heard an impersonator is harassing people. Those messages aren’t from us.”

Brittain also posted this screenshot showing that he’d anonymously reported the account allegedly responsible for sending the abusive messages:

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However, it appears that the disputed account does in fact belong to Brittain.

As this screenshot from June shows, Brittain’s alleged impersonator once co-managed the official Facebook group page (now deleted) for Brittain’s failed ridesharing company Dryvyng:

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As part of his settlement with the FTC, Brittain is permanently restrained from misrepresenting himself in connection with goods or services.

Hat tip to Asher Langton for tweeting out Palladino’s Facebook post.