Opinion: FBI Erodes Media’s Credibility with Fake News Site, Story Used in Probe

By Alexander Dominquez
Daily Titan

Government agencies sometimes do whatever they feel is necessary to accomplish their goal of catching people engaged in criminal activities.

However, there are times when even these agencies must ask themselves whether they are crossing the line.

In their pursuit of criminals, agencies like the FBI could be in the wrong themselves.

The FBI is taking heat from media organizations for its shady tactics to catch a suspect involved in a bomb threat case, according to an AFP article. What they did could almost be described as either childish.

In 2007, The FBI created a fake Associated Press news article hoping that the suspect would click the article, thereby revealing his location to the FBI.

The article would install malware that would essentially track him and provide the FBI with his location.

The fake article, which appeared to be in the Seattle Times, was then sent to the suspect’s Myspace account.

This disturbing information was only recently discovered when a security research for The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted out a link to the case file.

Of course, the bureau is defending its actions in multiple ways.

According to the FBI, The Seattle Times was never named. However, the fake site resembled that of the newspaper.

FBI agent Frank Montoya added in a statement to the Union that the tactic used in this particular case is only used in what he described as “rare circumstances.”

That all may be fine and dandy to the FBI. Still, the bureau’s decision to participate in such a questionable scheme should raise concerns on multiple levels, by media and citizen alike.

When the FBI associated the AP and The Seattle Times with their fake story, they compromised every news outlet’s most precious trait: credibility.

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