“You really have to question everything you see on the web …” reported the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Oh, wait. That was quote was actually related to a different story from Tuesday—the one where a spoofed URL leading to a news story fooled lots of folks, including the Nieman Journalism Lab and Slate. From Paul Carr at TechCrunch:

A story from the UK’s Independent newspaper that started out with this URL…

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/kate-middleton-jelly-bean-2269573.html

…went viral, after a prankster tweeted it out as…

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/utter-PR-fiction-but-people-love-this-shit-so-fuck-it-lets-just-print-it-2269573.html

(Both URLs work just fine.)

Embarrassingly, and amusingly, several news organizations including Slate and Nieman itself, fell foul of the prank, assuming that it reflected an error at the Independent.

The FTC lawsuits and URL spoof error seemed perfectly timed to remind us of the urgency of the authenticity issue, and the significance of the challenge.

Maybe should have called the gathering Hardly Strictly Easy—as in to solve.

Correction of the Week

“A report on the latest attack on Andres Serrano’s controversial work Piss Christ inadvertently referred to the late US Republican Senator Jesse Helms as Jesse James (Hit with a hammer and slashed with an ice pick. Anti-blasphemy attack on Piss Christ, 19 April, page 3).” - The Guardian

Craig Silverman is the editor of RegretTheError.com and the author of Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech. He is also the editorial director of OpenFile.ca and a columnist for the Toronto Star.