So inaccurate, probably worth a press council complaint

November 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Millions of Kiwis are bombarding blacklisted child-sex-abuse sites to request access to illegal videos and photos.

That is total crap. The story would have you think somewhere between 25% and 100% of Kiwis are trying to access child pornography websites. It is alarmist crap which is trying to induce moral panic.

The Department of Internal Affairs has already blocked 34 million attempts within New Zealand to access at least one of 582 child sex abuse sites blocked by government filters since 2010.

There are two important things to note here. The first is that the 34 million attempts tells us nothing about how many people are making those attempts. There is absolutely no basis in fact for the claim in the opening sentence.

The second thing is that the 34 million number is not the number of unique attempts, but can be one page generates 100 or more “attempts”. It’s like the difference between “hits” and “visits”.

Although many of these attempts are generated by pop-ups, malicious software and a small group of heavy users, the sheer number was described by one cyber security expert as “mind-boggling”.

The opening line would have you think millions of Kiwis are into child pornography. In fact a lot of it is malware.

However, while the stream of blocked requests was huge, the actual number of people consuming child sex abuse material in New Zealand was small and most of them were being caught, he said.

DIA do a very good job of catching those who sell, buy and trade child abuse images. It’s a yucky job they do, and they deserve our thanks. They have made it clear that the actual number of people access child sex amuse material is small so how did the story end up with a misleading headline and opening sentence? It may have been a sub-editor?

Tags: ,

15 Responses to “So inaccurate, probably worth a press council complaint”

  1. nickb (3,658 comments) says:

    This has to be one of the worst articles I have ever written.

    “Millions of NZers” turns into “very few NZers accessing the same websites over and over”.

    Should we pass a law making NCEA Level 1 a prerequisite for journalists?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Kimbo (667 comments) says:

    “…so how did the story end up with a misleading headline and opening sentence?”

    Nothing sells like a moral panic beat-up. Roast-busters, and Willie and JT, anyone?

    I don’t make the rules – I just report them.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. labrator (1,745 comments) says:

    Just stop reading Stuff. Your life will be appreciably better. It is the worst news site possible. The sole purpose of these tabloid papers is to promote an emotional response. They use subtle psychological techniques, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, to get as many “reads”, clicks or links as possible so they can gain advertising revenue. There is absolutely no motivator to produce anything with journalistic integrity. This is an unfortunate by-product of social media where having a controversy go viral is the ultimate success for a writer of these posts.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. AM1 (13 comments) says:

    I also thought “millions of Kiwis” was total nonsense as well.

    Unfortunately Stuff had not enabled commenting on that article so it goes unchallenged.

    edit: I see they’ve changed the copy in the article now.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. smttc (689 comments) says:

    Subediting has been a disaster for the print media.

    I think it is about time the press had a proper set of journalistic principles they had to abide by.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    When Cunliffe’s cousin is Fairfax’s chief sub in Wellington, what would one expect! The whole company is top heavy with lefties, losers, and no-hopers.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    They have obviously confused my millions of Google searches re: “Sheep” for “Lambs”. :)

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Same as police claiming a drug bust was worth $10 million.

    Just picking numbers out of the air.

    I would believe these numbers are easily judged as spurious.

    But the dangerous element is Goebbels statement that to repeat a fiction enough and it becomes truth.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. martinh (1,155 comments) says:

    No wonder these organisations a going down the tubes

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. OneTrack (2,575 comments) says:

    It is Stuff. You were expecting something else?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Repetition is the key to mass indocrination

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. ZenTiger (425 comments) says:

    Just as bad as most of the other articles in the paper – it just seems more obvious when they fall into areas we know more about. The constant suggestion that Colin Craig is scary because he’s Christian is bordering on pathological.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    He’d be far more scary if he was a Druidic, climate change believing, illuminati, shapeshifting, socialist union organiser as far as I’m concerned! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. ZenTiger (425 comments) says:

    I thought that was the definition of Christian?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Spoon (101 comments) says:

    It’s also probably pretty relevant to note that they accidentally blocked one of Google’s IP addresses or ranges for a few days there, meaning a lot of people who tried to access Google ran into issues. They haven’t said if the 34 million includes this or not, but it’s entirely feasible that a significant proportion are these people. If Google doesn’t work for you, the first thing you do is hit refresh a couple of times. Then go away for 10 minutes are try the same again. Six hits, from one person. Could be millions in no time.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.