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This is how an Iranian network created a “disinformation supply chain” to spread fake news
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Aug. 14, 2014, 5:50 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: gawker.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   August 14, 2014

There’s no need to enumerate the breadth and variety of godawful content published by millennial angst engine Thought Catalog. The site’s propensity for publishing garbage is so well known, they actually address it in the FAQs.

offensive content

But today, the site published and tweeted a short article so egregiously racist, it could not be ignored.

The Internet responded emphatically. From the comments: “This ‘article’ is absolutely disgusting.” “This is an absolute embarrassment.” “This is some racist shit. Good Job TC — you are now a White Supremacist publication.” From Twitter:

thought-catalog-racist-tweets

Though author Anthony Rogers wasn’t the only person to point out today that looting is illegal, the offensive nature — not to mention incomprehensibility — of his post was enough to make me wonder how it could have gotten past a human editor or producer at Thought Catalog.

In an email, Thought Catalog publisher Chris Lavergne told me that, in fact, “This particular piece was not screened by a producer.” The bar is extremely low for becoming an approved Thought Catalog contributor — “basically just email us,” according to Lavergne — and then you can publish whatever you want. Then, via SocialFlow, a tweet will be sent from the Thought Catalog account automatically. Writes Lavergne:

Today, in response, we deployed code that blocks community uploads from going straight to our social feeds without human approval. Only staff, independent contractors, and vetted community contributors will now be put into the SocialFlow queue.

The inherent risk of giving contributors free rein of your publishing platform was raised earlier this week when Gawker Media was overrun by users posting abusive gore and rape GIFs on Kinja. Gawker responded, shutting down image posting or comments entirely on some posts. Thought Catalog, which hasn’t taken down Rogers’ post, would appear to prefer allowing the trolls to have their way.

Editor’s note: Caroline tried very hard to avoid using the word “platisher” in this post, but it really does need to be mentioned here. Platisher.

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