Infodio: A Closer Look at the Libel Industry
There is a growing number of websites whose primary purpose is to destroy reputations. Hidden behind a smokescreen of fake journalists and false sources, many online blogs and media outlets are now getting paid to settle scores. In this article, we’ll have a closer look at Infodio, a shady blog operating from South America, that has recently been banned from Twitter for defamatory allegations.
At first glance, Infodio’s website appears amateurish. Photos are badly cropped. Grammar and spelling are afterthoughts. It is clunky and text-heavy, as if intended to be read by machines, not humans.
Which begs the question: who is benefiting the most from this type of news blog?
We spoke to an IT specialist that works in a leading Reputation Management company. He agreed to speak to us on condition of anonymity: “I have been working in this industry since 2002” he says. “The motivation behind publishing negative articles online is often multifaceted. But in the case of Infodio, we can clearly identify a political and commercial angle. Their unverified claims have obscure sources, but search engines are giving them a veneer of credibility. And this is why the effect is so devastating. What’s worse, is that they can get away with it because they are often hosted in murky jurisdictions. For the right price, I can now publish an article about Apple saying that they have ties to cartels in South America. And it will show up in Google as a credible source.”
In simple terms, Infodio seems to have been designed to deceive. It might look like a legitimate news blog, but in reality, it is just a platform where the highest bidder can publish whatever article they want.
So what options do the victims have?
Most of the fake and defamatory articles on Infodio relate to public figures and big corporations, who can only win a libel lawsuit by showing that Infodio acted with “actual malice.” This means that the author must have known the story was false or must have had a “reckless disregard” for whether it was true or not. It’s usually a difficult standard to meet. Add to that the exorbitant lawyer fees, it becomes a very difficult battle to win.