Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Business Insider Quietly Changes its Headline

In yesterday's post I noted that a story on the increasingly popular Business Insider website misread its source, resulting in a headline and content that were patently false. Several commenters to the original BI story also pointed out that the author had made false claims.

I followed the link in yesterday's post to see if there had been any changes to the story to find that the headline has been changed.

Yesterday's headline:
These Fake Chinese Microchips Were Made To Disarm U.S. Missiles

Today's headline: The Navy Bought Fake Chinese Microchips That Could Have Disarmed U.S. Missiles

While the new headline is somewhat less inflammatory, it still doesn't address the false allegation here, which is that a Chinese entity sold chips to the US that had the capability of being used to disarm US missiles.

Having read both the Wired story and the Washington Post story, I can still find no suggestion that this was the case. By all indications, these were merely "fake" chips -- fake in the sense that they looked like real chips and performed like real chips -- in the same way that a fake Gucci bag both looks and performs like a real one.

In no way do I want to minimize the potential for serious damage that a fake chip could cause to an airplane. I get the fact the potential for damage is much greater than that of a fake handbag.

But there is a HUGE difference in the political implications between a fake chip and a chip that has been deliberately designed to cause damage. HUGE. And if Business Insider doesn't get that, then they are in the wrong business.

Of course the chips "could have" been designed with a back-door, but as long as all possibilities are on the table, let's go ahead and acknowledge that China "could have" nuked Los Angeles yesterday. I mean, they do possess that capability, right?

I looked for some sort of mea culpa, but didn't find one. As a commenter to my post from yesterday seems to imply, Business Insider's inflammatory headline has probably already generated enough page views anyway.

If, for some reason, Business Insider should start to lose viewers in the West, I'm sure Xinhua would welcome some of their editorial expertise. ;-)