Tue Jan 6. Hijacked FP Box

Subjects:

Back on the Front Page rota. During the long Christmas break, we had the "Best of" taking up the right hand side and occasional pieces on the left hand side. The crisis in Gaza started before we had planned to start active, disciplined publishing again. Paul Rogers wrote an analytical, clear and devastating assessment of the security aspects. The piece has attracted a great deal of commentary - polarised but serious.

Over the week-end I set up a Diigo group to collect must-reads on the crisis. I emailed the openDemocracy staff suggesting they add material to it. I added a few other people to the distribution list whom I thought would be doing some interesting reading on the crisis. I told everyone that whatever they tagged in the group would be reproduced in the "Gaza" box on the top right of the page.

Fine ... it all seemed to be working v.well. Until this afternoon, when I received a shocked email from a loyal reader: "I am writing to share my surprise (and disgust) at the fact that opening open democracy.net today to access a (fantastic) article about climate change I discovered a “gaza” tab on the right listing no less than 5 posts that are 100% pro Israel. Open Democracy had shown better balance than this in the past and I am deeply disappointed."

When I went to the tab, I indeed recognised none of the articles there. A bit of digging and I discovered that a certain Michael Bremmer had joined the diigo group and was posting this very unbalanced material. I have no idea who Michael Bremmer is. I tried a little sleuthing to see if I could figure who had let him into the group -- there was no simple way to tell. I presume that at some degree of remove, my email inviting a small number of trusted readers had somehow made its way to Michael Bremmer who immediately spammed the Gaza box. I think I fixed the leak and the box is now back to being something I am happy with.

Thank you to our concerned reader. Many eyes make light work, as Wikipedians know. The episode also made me realise how rapidly I could come to a sense of violation --- someone unwelcome had sneaked in and  left an illegitimate trace on the site. My heart goes out to all those who have had treasured domains hacked or otherwise taken away from them.