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Verizon Businesses Privacy The Media United States News

Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying 145

blottsie writes: The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.
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Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...that's because this site is being spied on...and delivered through an internet pipe the size of a straw...

    • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:18AM (#48259823)

      It's the perfect example of why those who distribute media/news should never have been allowed to be the same ones who create the media/news.

  • That's pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dciman ( 106457 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:01AM (#48259683) Journal

    Talk about a straw man.

    "Mainstream" tech sites are bad enough already.

    • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:13AM (#48259789)

      "Mainstream" tech sites are bad enough already.

      But, "Mainstream" sites are too ... ... waaaait a second.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have this vague hope that this is so that we can have tech news instead of political journalism, but it's Verizon.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This. Many times this.

      I mean, look at the shit Gawker has been pulling recently.

      So many people are pissed off with them enough that they have been getting advertisers to jump ship, which many have done already.
      Gawker has lost millions off it. What did they do in reply to that fact?
      Gawker insulted said ex-advertisers quite openly and have done so several times since it has all happened.

      All of those other sites will be next. I legit hope Gawker dies.
      And I hope this service dies before it even gets anywhere

    • On the other hand, if it were not for the news about these restrictions, no one would ever have heard of or cared about SugarString.com.

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:05AM (#48259713) Journal
    And I care about one more crappy corporate-controlled portal site why? Other than the "will they set up a GeoCities page next"-esque shock-value that any company in 2014 still believes their customers give the least damn about their ISP's home page, of course.

    If Verizon doesn't want news about the ways the intelligence community and Verizon conspire to rape us all, hey, their portal. And if I want actual news, hey, not their portal. It all balances out.
    • ``any company in 2014 still believes their customers give the least damn about their ISP's home page''

      You mean my ISP has one? I never thought to look figuring it'd be about as useful as the old AOL web site.

      But back to the topic at hand: Way to go guys... shoot your credibility to kingdom come right out of the gate by placing limits on what will be covered. You might as well add a subtitle: "Cheery Verizon-approved News".

      • Re: ISP Home Page (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:57AM (#48260223) Journal

        I can't believe no one is talking about how to hack the site to allow those sort of news articles.

        I miss the bad old days.

        • I can't believe no one is talking about how to hack the site to allow those sort of news articles.

          These days, the first rule of hacktivism is you do not talk about hacktivism.

          You should totally be a law abiding citizen and not attempt in anyway to punish or otherwise mess with this site. Advocating any form of illegal operation would be a completely bad idea ... *wink* *wink*.

          As good citizens we should accept that the corporations know what's best for us, and it would be improper to become vigilantes.

          No si

    • Go to SugarString.com for sugarcoated news
    • And I care about one more crappy corporate-controlled portal site why? Other than the "will they set up a GeoCities page next"-esque shock-value that any company in 2014 still believes their customers give the least damn about their ISP's home page, of course. If Verizon doesn't want news about the ways the intelligence community and Verizon conspire to rape us all, hey, their portal. And if I want actual news, hey, not their portal. It all balances out.

      TFA made it sound like they were hiring "reporters" (sounded to me more like bloggers) who are actually writing content rather than running a portal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:07AM (#48259737)

    Adrian Cronauer: RIGHT! In... in Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn't officially happen was a bomb didn't officially explode at 1430 hours, unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah's cafe.

    Sgt. Major Dickerson: [to censor] Get him out of there!

    Adrian Cronauer: Three men were unofficially wounded, and two men whose identities are not known at this time...

    Sgt. Major Dickerson: [to censor as both are trying to get into the locked studio] Break the goddamn door down!

    Adrian Cronauer: ...the fire department responded, which we believe to be unofficial at this present moment...

    Sgt. Major Dickerson: [bursting into engineering room and barks to engineer] Turn it off! Now!

    Adrian Cronauer: I just want to think that you should...

    [the VU needles rest on their pins as the console goes dark... Cronauer removes his headphones and pushes mic boom aside]

  • by byteherder ( 722785 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:10AM (#48259763)
    That is like making a crime website but not reporting on murders and robberies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is like making a crime website but not reporting on murders and robberies that the company committed.

      FTFY

      • Best AC FTFY I have ever seen. Hats off to you, brave coward.
      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        That is like making a crime website but not reporting on murders and robberies that the company committed.

        FTFY

        All newspapers are like that. A.J. Liebling said that in one of the first stories he ever wrote, he said that "a Silvercup bakery truck had been in an accident." When the story came out, it said that "a bakery truck had been in an accident." Slivercup is an advertiser.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      This sounds like more like the beginning of official "state media" to me.

  • "SugarString publishes thoughtful tech-focused stories that track humanity’s climb towards the new next."

    Well, they want to be part of that climb towards the new next.

    Nobody said the new next was not going to be a shitty place.

    Now I wonder what's the official age at which one can start laughing at younger people for the shitty world they're going to inherit.

    • Now I wonder what's the official age at which one can start laughing at younger people for the shitty world they're going to inherit.

      The point at which you have less of your adult left in it than you've already lived.

      Anything before that and you're stuck with that realization for a long time.

      Now, get off my damned lawn, and go enjoy your dystopian future, suckers.

    • by judoguy ( 534886 )
      That's just like the term "progressive". I know people that consider "progressive" to be the ultimate compliment.

      Actual conversation: "Oh, I can't believe those neighbors turned out to be such jerks. They seemed so progressive!"

      Progressive taxes, progressive politics, etc. Never real thought about to *where* are we progressing.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Reminds me of this Democrat who came around knocking on doors. Of course she immediately assumed I was a republican when I told her I wasn't voting for her candidate, that is until I mentioned my support for the green party candidate, which clearly annoyed her even more.

        "Well I hope you at least are going to support keeping our state sales tax where it is" (there was a question about lowering it back to where it was a few years back), to which I looked her in the eye and said "Well, the sales tax is fundame

      • That's just like the term "progressive". I know people that consider "progressive" to be the ultimate compliment.

        Actual conversation: "Oh, I can't believe those neighbors turned out to be such jerks. They seemed so progressive!"

        Progressive taxes, progressive politics, etc. Never real thought about to *where* are we progressing.

        The political term "progressive" includes in its meaning the idea that humanity is (overall) on an upward, improving path.

        For example, we have outlawed slavery, given women the vote and stopped sending (Western) children out to work for 12 hours a day.

        If you are deeply conservative, then I suppose you think life was better a few hundred years ago when people grew rich from slavery, treated their wives as chattels, and liked the ability of eight year olds to climb up narrow chimneys.

        For the rest of us,

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Well lets see. Normally when one climbs, one reaches an area smaller than the one below, with longer ways to fall, and less oxygen to maintain proper life function and maintain a clear head and focus....yes...yes their analogy works fine.

    • Nobody said the new next was not going to be a shitty place.

      True, but could it be any shittier than the sentence "SugarString publishes thoughtful tech-focused stories that track humanity's climb towards the new next."?

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:13AM (#48259791) Homepage

    In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

    You gotta admire the chutzpah. Even as they are saying to the FCC that they can be trusted with the authority to be the gatekeepers of the Internet, they put on a public display of their intent to inhibit public policy debate on the very issue of Net Neutrality itself.

    The extraordinary lack of self-consciousness is difficult to fathom. It rises to the level of, "Let them eat cake."

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:22AM (#48259871)

      Are you kidding, who do you think is giving them backing, if not the U.S. Government? Do you think it's private corporate funding that forbids them from discussing U.S. spying? This venture is about as "private" as Radio Free Europe.

      • Do you think it's private corporate funding that forbids them from discussing U.S. spying?

        If they want to do business with the government, yes.

    • I'll be amused when Wired comes out to report about this, welcoming them to the field.
    • The extraordinary lack of self-consciousness is difficult to fathom. It rises to the level of, "Let them eat cake."

      I think you've summed it up quite nicely ... it's a sense of entitlement, and as long as we keep the unwashed masses ignorant, everything will be just fine.

      The oligarchy just needs to keep the suckers in the dark, and they can have anything they want to. And, in exchange for hiding what the government is doing (and can't censor themselves), the government will turn an eye from the shady things

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

      You gotta admire the chutzpah. Even as they are saying to the FCC that they can be trusted with the authority to be the gatekeepers of the Internet, they put on a public display of their intent to inhibit public policy debate on the very issue of Net Neutrality itself.

      The extraordinary lack of self-consciousness is difficult to fathom. It rises to the level of, "Let them eat cake."

      I say it's completely fathomable. It was the inevitable result of decades of policy aimed at placing more an more power in the hands of corporations. First, they convinced a naive and gullible electorate that "...government is the problem..." and that tax breaks for the "job creators" would make unicorns real. Now, when the Internet, as a medium, threatens to foster genuine public discussion about such policy, they want to censor that too. No surprise it all.

    • You gotta admire the chutzpah. Even as they are saying to the FCC that they can be trusted with the authority to be the gatekeepers of the Internet, they put on a public display of their intent to inhibit public policy debate on the very issue of Net Neutrality itself.

      It's not chutzpah, this just shows you just how solidly they have the political system locked up. They have the politicians and regulators so firmly bought and paid for that they are not worried about those stooges one tiny bit, D or R. Good hell, they're even going after Attorneys General with lobbyists to stifle lawsuits. [nytimes.com]

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:14AM (#48259801)

    The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology propaganda site called SugarString.com

    FTFY

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So they are not actually a tech-news site at all, but a mega-corp propaganda / infomercial / advertising site. "Buy this new gadget we just made to mine your personal data, pay no attention to that EULA behind the boilerplate..."

    • ... a mega-corp propaganda / infomercial / advertising site.

      I scanned the comments to see if anyone picked up on this.

      Verizon is a retail revenue generator, not a news organization.

      Their portal is going to be an ad site.

  • Relax Citizen ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:19AM (#48259833) Homepage

    It's OK, everything is still shiny ... look, we have pretty buttons, and widgets, and apps ... why no, we've never heard of spying or net neutrality ... your government is here to serve you ... the corporations are your friends, we're here to help... we've always been at war with East Anglia ... War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery.

    Fucking Pathetic.

    They're basically starting the campaign of disinformation and leaving out the bits of reality which are inconvenient to them.

    I sincerely hope people either boycott them, or make damned sure to either pollute their comment boards with the stuff they're hiding, or otherwise publicly shame them.

    A "Tech News" site which isn't allowed to discuss some of the most important news about tech going on today is a horrible thing, and do not deserve any support from anybody.

    Screw you Verizon. I hope every other tech news site spends time pointing out the crap you're doing and this blows up in your face.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:21AM (#48259863) Journal

    There are lots of Government technical workers, who probably would like to read more tech news but have security clearance related fears. There is much FUD, possibly legitimate FUD don't know, don't have a clearance myself but have been interviewed many times when friends have sought clearances.

    Some of them really are afraid clicking the wrong Slashdot story while taking a break at work could cost them. Frankly I think the bigger issue is the government though police are so frightened they even make an issue of such a thing but, it is what is.

    So now I guess Verizon with profit from so new ad revenue.

    • Some of them really are afraid clicking the wrong Slashdot story while taking a break at work could cost them.

      This is a nice example of self-correction. The wild abuses they commit have put them in a position of being unable to effectively keep up in their field.

      On the other hand, of course later we'll find out what sweetheart deal from the FCC Verizon got out of this, but it won't be covered on sillystring, so those same government workers will be protected from learning much about their own employer's c

    • There are lots of Government technical workers, who probably would like to read more tech news but have security clearance related fears.

      That's pretty pathetic ... if you need to be shielded from the truth in order to maintain your security clearance this is pretty much where we're headed.

      The government doesn't want smart, informed people working for them ... they want clueless idiots who will keep their head down and simply not become aware of the kinds of things their jobs lead to.

      Papers please, comrade.

  • Which reminds me... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:29AM (#48259941)

    I found NSA intrusion long before it became headline news.
    Noticing probing on the firewall I did traceroute look ups through multiple paths to define a pattern of problem servers.
    When a common server was discovered I fired up the Robtex Swiss Army Knife Internet Tool.
    Cross referencing the trees and information and records of servers I saw a former employer server was the problem "leaky insecure"
    Interestingly it was being hosted on NSA servers. In other words the internet is hosted by dot mil and nsa servers.
    A side note is just writing this post induced a buffer pointer over run, coincidence? : )

  • by JoeRobe ( 207552 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:32AM (#48259969) Homepage

    Not that I don't believe it, but the only link in the story that directly refers to the explicit ban is a picture of an email that one guy sent to another. It says that he likes working at sugarstring, but spying and net neutrality are verboten topics.

    Anyone have a contract or other bit of more concrete evidence? Or is this story solely based upon the image of an email?

  • after reading this article I don't think China is the only one good at censorship, hehe
    • Ah, but people will make the counter-claim that a) this isn't the government, it's private industry on private property (sorta), so it's OK, and b) nobody will drag you off in the night(*) so it isn't really censorship.

      See what they did there, comrade?

      Now get back to work, or you'll be reported to the central authority.

      (*) But we may have to do some parallel construction on your ass for having done so. We can't have the citizens getting uppity and thinking they still have a right to exercise free speech a

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @08:38AM (#48260009) Homepage
    If you want to know who is in charge, Find the person you're not allowed to talk about. Being a recipient of the controversial retroactive immunity for spying, as well as a contentious and vociferous opponent of net neutrality, Its fairly clear who cracks the whip. So if the arguably two largest concerns facing the internet and tech community are off-limits for SugarString, how is it they intend to beat the competition 'at their own game' if the competition offers in depth, comprehensive coverage and analysis?
  • From what I can tell the policy was expressed in an email TFA references: "Downside is there are two verboten topics (spying and net neutrality)"

    Every media outlet has an editorial policy that you need to know, whether it's New York Times of Fox News. I'm kind of okay with a Verizon backed site not covering those topics, since nobody would believe anything they reported anyway. Plus there is plenty coverage on those subjects elsewhere.

    • If you've shown to be against public interest why start a news site at all? Should the point of a news site not be to inform the readers? But we already know Verizon will act against everyone else's interests, so why consider anything they say on any subject?
      • by tomhath ( 637240 )
        True, but my point is that you could say the same about every news site. MSNBC? Huffington Post? Fox News? Daily Kos? They all have an agenda.
  • Why is this bad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @09:18AM (#48260417) Homepage

    These are issues that Verizon cannot be neutral on, so it makes perfect ethical sense for them to recuse themselves from discussing such topics. Don't lambast them for it.

    The real questions here are:
    1) Who are the backers and why did they stipulate this requirement?
    2) Why is Verizon starting a news & pop culture site in a time when such sites are prevalent and unprofitable?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course we're going to lambast them on it, hell, I'd hoist them on their own petard as well.

      They cannot open a tech news site and then block 90% of what's really tech news, and in today's society, government spying, corporate spying, corporate thievery, corporate ass-hattery, government agents committing acts of treason are 90% of the tech news.

      Fuck em, they deserve every derisive, contempt filled response they get, and probably more than they get. They deserve to have their entire stack of corporate off

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        They cannot open a tech news site and then block 90% of what's really tech news...

        Agreed!

        ...are 90% of the tech news.

        While the topic riles me up too, this is not true even on Slashdot. Such exaggeration does not help.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A propaganda site doesn't have to be profitable.

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        It is going to be difficult to make it into a good propaganda site if they don't post articles on the topic they are trying to propagate.

    • Verizon, being an ISP, has an interest in not discussing net neutrality. No neutrality means they get to take some comfortable money from "content providers" to fast-lane their data. As a side-effect, maybe they can delay expensive network upgrades even more so that these deals become critical for the content providers.
      The spying thing isn't so much directly related to their business -- but they do allow the government to spy on their networks, so there's a high probability of a spying story coming out that
  • Meaning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @10:02AM (#48260873)

    SugarString.com is USELESS and should be ostracised as a propganda site, NOT a news site.

    In fact, it should be legally barred from calling itself a "news" site.

    • Re:Meaning (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Wednesday October 29, 2014 @11:18AM (#48261697) Journal

      SugarString.com is USELESS and should be ostracised as a propganda site, NOT a news site.

      In fact, it should be legally barred from calling itself a "news" site.

      Well, if Fox News gets to call itself a "news" site then that's sets a pretty low bar to clear, don't you think?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's why they aren't in Canada.
        They've been trying to get the CRTC to change its rule on Fraudulent News Stories and errata....
        But the CRTC has remained solid on the rules that bind OUR news Reporters, even if imperfect and problematic.

        • Unfortunately I see far less fear mongering and fraudulent reporting on Fox than I do on MSNBC or CBS. I'm not saying that any of those networks are great - they're not - but when Canada allows Al-Jazeera and declines to carry Fox, one does start to wonder if the real issue is reporting and not simply politics.

          • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

            Unfortunately I see far less fear mongering and fraudulent reporting on Fox than I do on MSNBC or CBS.

            Then you don't watch Fox. Name something from either of those networks that comes close to the Fox penchant for labeling Republicans in scandal as Democrats, or using footage from an old Glenn Beck rally to make it look like large crowds turned out for a newer one.

  • So, kind of like William Randolph Hearst, but without the charisma and Hollywood starlets at parties?

    So, kind of like papers that actually had "Democrat" in the name of the paper because, you know, they were going to slant everything that way and made no bones about it.

    So, "Yawwwwn", because it's a company rag (except that it's online so there's no actual rag) and everybody knows it.

    Now, if only we were getting a decent education and actually being taught how to think instead of how to use Office. We'd und

  • Verizon wants to be a censor and strikes to limit conversations it considers damaging to their position. What they seek is to suppress free speech. Since that violates public interest it is time to revoke their business license. Now instead of going to work they can stay home and try to govern the rubber ducks in their bath water.
  • That's what net neutrality is all about, and why it is so important.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    " tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality"

    So we're opening up a Fast Food place but you can't order a Burger with Fries....
    Yeah, That'll work......not


  • @namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);

    @-moz-document domain("sugarstring.com") {

    body:before {
      content: "Forbidden from covering American spying or net neutrality by Verizon's corporate sponsorship";
      color: #FF0000;
      display: block;
      text-align: center;
      font-size: 3vmax;
      padding-top: 10vh !important;
      padding-bottom: 10vh !important;
    }

    }

    • Display:block doesn't actually work. It's a vestige from my first pass (long ago) that I forgot to remove when it proved impotent.

      The script just adds an angry red banner at the top of every page served.

  • [Comment redacted by Verizon, thank you for using the Verizon wireless network]

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