CORRECTION: New evidence suggests that the screenshot discussed in this post and elsewhere was not a forgery but the result of a glitch. I offer a correction, and an apology, and a discussion of the implications, here. I have left the text of this piece as is.
When reputable publications, online or off, make a mistake, the editors grit their teeth, swallow their embarrassment, and run a correction. [EDIT: I’ve even got a little one at the end of this post!]
Men’s Rights hate hub A Voice for Men has somewhat more lax standards than reputable publications, or even not-so-reputable publications, and generally prefers to deal with its errors by pretending they never happened. But sometimes the errors are so obvious, even to their own somewhat credulous readers, that they have to acknowledge them in some form.
In the case of one egregious recent error AVFM has tried something a bit more audacious: resorting to a phony screenshot and outright lies in an attempt to prove that they were right all along.
Sorry, dudes, but you’re not going to get away with it. You guys are so grossly incompetent you can’t even lie convincingly.
You may recall the post I ran the other day about A Voice for Men’s bizarre claim that search engines were somehow hiding articles and resources related to violence against men from intrepid web searchers? Indeed, the post in question on AVFM asked readers to
try typing into a search engine the phrase “violence against men.” You will get scores of pages linking to articles and information regarding violence against women.
As I pointed out, and as everyone else who tried this experiment noticed as well, this is not actually true: typing in the phrase “violence against men” into Google or Bing gets you lots of links related to …. violence against men. A few intrepid Googlers even pointed this out in the comments on AVFM.
So what has AVFM done? Well, here’s how Dean Esmay, AVFM’s so-called “managing editor” Dean Esmay responded in the comments to one reader suggesting that a correction might be in order.
Did you follow any of that? I had to read it several times, but Esmay seems to be suggesting that someone at Google read the post on AVFM and adjusted Google’s search algorothim so that searches for information on “violence against men” would in fact return information on “violence against men.”
In other words, AVFM didn’t make a mistake. It made the world a better place!
You should also note that Esmay’s confession that he had no screenshots to back up his claims.
By the time he got around to writing a little “Editorial Update,” however, he was a bit less tentative about tooting AVFM’s horn — and he also managed to somehow conjure up a screenshot that conveniently seemed to prove his point.
There’s just one problem. The screenshot is an obvious fake. Here’s the link to it on AVFM’s server.
But I’m pasting it here as well.
Now, at first glance, this seems to prove his point. The searcher here seems to have searched for “violence against men” and gotten results dealing with “violence against women.”
But look again at the additional results listed at the bottom of the screenshot: “News for violence against,” and “Searches related to violence against.”
That was the actual search term used. “Violence against,” not “Violence against men.”
Had he really searched for “violence against men” the additional results at the bottom would be listed under the headings “News for violence against men,” and “Searches related to violence against men.” Test this for yourself if you want.
In other words, someone involved with AVFM — Esmay himself? — did a Google search for “violence against,” got the results, and then typed in the word “men” in the search box before taking a screenshot to make it look like the original search was for “violence against men.”
I just did my own search for “violence against” (without the word men, and without quotes) and these are the top results. Look familiar?
Yeah, so familiar THAT EVEN THE TOP TWO NEWS STORIES THAT COME UP ARE THE SAME.
Here’s the top news story linked to in AVFM’s faked screenshot — and in the one I just made.
You’ll notice that it was posted on June 13th. That is, the day AFTER the AVFM story went up, not “before press,” as Esmay claims.
In other words, Dean Esmay (or whoever concocted this forgery and gave it to Esmay) didn’t make this screenshot before the AVFM story went up.
The AVFM forger did a search yesterday, using the search term “violence against,” then typed in the word “men” after getting the search results but before taking the screenshot, to make it look like he was searching for the term “violence against men.”
All so AVFM wouldn’t have to admit it had made a mistake, and acknowledge that Esmay, as “managing editor,” had fucked up royally by letting a story be published without doing even the most rudimentary bit of fact-checking of the story’s central premise.
Put a fork in it, A Voice for Men. Your credibility is done. Burned to a crisp.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, you can use the AVFM Google forgery technique here to make it look like searching for, say, “violence against marmosets who enjoy soup” returns a bunch of results about violence against women — just so long as you don’t pay attention to the highlighted words in the search results.
I mean, once you start blatantly forging evidence, you can pretty much “prove” anything your audience is gullible enough to believe.
Too bad for A Voice for Men that the rest of us aren’t quite so gullible.
EDITED TO ADD: This story just gets stranger and stranger. I’ve just checked the blog where the AVFM post originally ran. The author of that post — who calls himself funkymunkyluvn, and who has been identified on AVFM as both Jason Gregory and Jason Thompson — has now completely rewritten his original post and changed his central claim to this one:
try typing into a search engine the phrase “violence against.” You will get scores of pages linking to articles and information regarding violence against women.
This claim, unlike his original one, is true. And this time he provides screenshots to prove it. Here’s one of them — click for a larger version. Look at the top ten results on the left. Do they look familiar to you?
Yep, right on down to that Guardian article.
Unfortunately, while correcting his original article — and happily not resorting to AVFM style screenshot fraud — Mr. MunkyLuvn/Gregory/Thompson/? has not acknowledged his original error. He’s essentially pretending that he never made his original mistake. Which isn’t going to work any better than AVFM’s forgery, as his original article is still available on AVFM, and (at least for now) in Google cache.
You’ve gotta fess up, dude. That’s how it’s done.
But at least I now have a reasonably convincing — to me — theory as to how the original mistake got made, and here it is: Mr. MunkyLuvn/Gregory/Thompson/? did a search for “violence against” and got results similar to what he got in the screenshot above. But perhaps he didn’t get around to writing his blog post right away, and by the time he wrote it, he unthinkingly and incorrectly added the word “men” when describing what he’d searched for. He never bothered to recheck, and no one at AVFM did either.
Now he’s trying to pretend he never made this mistake. That’s deceptive — but not as deceptive as actually forging evidence in an attempt to pretend you were never wrong.
EDIT AGAIN: Ok, this is just getting weirder. I assumed that AVFM was no longer referring to the author of the original post as Jason Gregory and was now referring to him as Jason Thompson. But that’s not true. They actually seem to be different people. Jason Gregory’s profile links to his blog, and to AVFM’s Jason Gregory’s page, but it DOESN’T link to his “violence against men” post. Jason Thompson’s profile doesn’t link to that blog, but to this non-existent page instead, but the Jason Thompson author page DOES link to Jason Gregory’s “violence against men” post, now bylined “Jason Thompson.”
I actually think this is some sort of glitch and not anything devious, but jeez, guys, get your act together.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article, and its headline, referred to AVFM’s phony “screenshots,” plural. There was just the one.
See, corrections aren’t so hard!