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How we screwed (almost) the whole Apple community (day4.se)
414 points by pohl on Aug 13, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 117 comments

They might be severely overestimating the stupidity of the masses [1] here by only considering the those who actually responded in comments or twitter.

Either they perceived the news as truth, or called it fake, no grey zone in between. The split between the two camps, was quite unequal. An estimate would be that 90% regarded the screw as a fact and based all the further opinion on that, only 10% were critical to accuracy.

This smells like massive response bias. I imagine most skeptical and critical readers get tired of responding with the obvious "hmm, how do we know this is true?" response.

A more interesting statistic would be how many people saw it and didn't find it interesting enough to warrant further investigation. I believe I saw the headline, rolled my eyes, and went back to work.

That's not to say lock-out isn't an important consideration, but it didn't pass the "this can be verified" test, and anyway, it would be obvious enough once the new iPhone came out.

[1] Edit: maybe the masses are stupid (I'm not convinced of this), but the vocal rush to judgement of a few is not necessarily a representative sample.

The Internet (and life) is full of the silent majority. Unfortunately it's hard and unprofitable to report on the silent majority, so the loudest opinions are always taken as true. Teach the controversy. That's why it's hard to find valid community reviews; people who don't have a strong opinion are unlikely to voice that opinion. My laptop works just fine. I'm not in love with it, but I don't dislike it. It's a tool for getting my work done, and it performs its job exactly as well as I expect it to. Which is why you don't see ThinkPadRumors.com, CultOfLenovo.com, or The Unofficial Business Machine Weblog. There's no Fake Yang Yuanqing twitter account.

Being high-profile creates buzz, and creates controversy. Controversy sells, and makes a product more high-profile. You always have to take into account that the people who are yelling are the ones who have something to yell about. Behind them, there are people actually using the products who don't care either way.

On amazon at least, it's possible to counteract this effect using 3-star reviews. The kind of people who dislike a product but aren't vindictive about it and still see its strong points tend to be even-tempered folk.

True, but you're still talking about people who felt it was important to leave a review. I try to leave reviews of everything I buy, but I frequently forget to do so if the product performs as expected (neither exceptionally good nor bad).

And you know you're in the minority. It's not even apathy, either. It takes effort to prove to a site you're not a spammer, astro-turfer etc. so most people don't bother because the barrier is too high.

I could care less about a bunch of unwanted emails in my inbox, but the pollution of the online community review and advice spheres is what really pisses me off about cnuts who try and game stuff.

They're polluting our collective consciousness quite literally.

I have a couple dozen Apple-oriented feeds in my reader, and I don't remember seeing anything about this screw. Either my memory is really bad, or they're seriously over-estimating their impact.

EDIT: to add a few links to sites gloating that they weren't caught.

1. http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/08/13/rumored_iphone...





The exact point is that the critics remain silent, while the believers (or those doing it on purpose) carry the false news forward. Then those posts will appear on the search engines. Then those searching about the topic will become convinced based on big number of similar posts.

Attempting to correct misinformation, for instance, here on Hacker News, is essentially impossible and pointless. This screw story, like many others ("MBP Retina is unrepairable", etc.) play into an ideology[1].

And no facts, no matter how well sourced, can defeat ideology when the ideologues have the down button and outnumber the critical thinker.

For instance, pointing out that Apple licensed the technology they got from Xerox back in the day, a stone cold and indisputable fact, gets down voted into invisibility and claims that it isn't true and that it was stolen, here on Hacker News. The claim that Apple stole from Xerox has been repeated so often and in so many cases that it has become "fact" in their minds. Another example is the idea that Apple didn't invent any new technology with the iPhone. They need this to be true, so they spread all kinds of nonsense (like 2001, a movie, is "prior art", which shows a significant lack of understanding of what patents are)... and they believe it.

It isn't simply that people are gullible, its that ideology (and apple hating is a prevalent ideology) is stronger than reality for so many people.

[1] Maybe religion is a better word, it feels more accurate, but is more likely to be taken as a pejorative so I'm going with ideology.

This sounds a bit like the problem of the proliferation of news on cable TV and on the Internet. With there being so many choices for news, people tend to migrate to the source that aligns with their preconceived notions. So instead of being presented with information that may run counter to what they believe to be the truth, they only get their views confirmed.

With so many sources available, it's difficult to correct misinformation. People tend to believe what they want the truth to be, and now they have sources to confirm it.

There is also a lot of (vocal) people that like to justify their consumer choice with moral argumentation. I guess when it comes to tech choice, tech minded people can't live with the fact that their reasons are mundane (like the screen better, better contract, or much worse the shape is better, your wife would like you to have the same one)

Apple also makes it hard for tech people. It is a consumer oriented brand, choosing them is like drinking a beer with your meal rather than carefully selecting the appropriate wine.

The masses are not stupid, they just don't care. Most iPhone buyers don't want to open their phone, and would never consider doing it and don't care whatsoever what kind of screws Apple use to hold it together.

Edit: OK iPhones don't have external screws. MacBook owners then. Same holds.

My iPhone 4 has two external pentalobe screws. I think all iPhones have two external screws either side of the cable connector.

Weirdly I saw the screw head and thought "I know exactly how to remove that" and thus, if I had seen the articles I would have ignored them but assumed they were true.

I need to develop a bit of critical thinking I guess.

fwiw, they didn't just submit to reddit and wait. They also submitted it to (at least some) sites directly. Doesn't look like any dedicated rumors sites actually published it. Getting fake rumor submissions is a daily occurrence for rumor sites.

The actual stories were posted on smaller sites which questioned the authenticity. And Wired actually did an article on custom screws and used the image as a jumping off point: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/if-theres-a-screw-the...

So you can look at as either a success or failure.

(disclaimer: I run MacRumors.com)

Actually, this comment here is the one that makes me think. I realised when I ran across it that I and, judging by the comments in this thread, others are taking the article at face value as truth despite that same article having just told us not to do that.

That direction of thinking will only drive you crazy. Skepticism is good but don't take it too far.

Also there is at least some proof that it was posted 5 days ago: http://imgur.com/fkyQS and http://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/xvnvo/a_friend_took_a...

I suppose we can question that day4.se were really the ones who planted it... but, does it matter who planted it? The conclusion is the same.

Please, examine the post to which I replied. The point is not a question of whether the facts you laid out are true. You are correct in that they don't matter so much. But consider in the context of the GP post: we have the article appearing to lay things out fairly closely to "look how much everyone believed us" versus the comment saying "well, not everyone". That is to say, the message of the article still holds just fine, but it would still be fair to carry this direction of thinking as far as "is their analysis totally on the level?" Given that this is more or less the message of the article, I was just noting how, even with this very message in front of us, we aren't necessarily heeding it as well as we could.

Ah, that wasn't quite clear. I agree, day4.se may not have had the effect they claimed they had.

I understand that these other sites have to cover the latest story or else they'll lose pageviews or be considered irrelevant or whatever, but to me that is the sign of a flawed system. If you don't have the resources to fact-check something (because you've laid off so many people), and other sites (like macrumors.com) do, then you should leave that story alone and let others fact-check it. I'm tired of every major news site trying to be all things to all people. We have aggregators now, so only a few sites need to cover any one thing, and people will still find out about it.

I've only partially thought through this argument, so I'm sure it has all sorts of holes and will be easy to misinterpret in every way possible, but I'm throwing it out there anyways.

There is really no possible fact checking on this. This is a 100% anonymous post. Unless you happen to know someone who works in this particular department at Apple.

Exactly. What we don't know is how many organizations came across this tip and decided not to run a story on it, since they didn't have any such contacts. We do know that some decided to write a story anyways, even though they had zero corroborating evidence, in case...?

I'm betting, and you could let us know on the real number, that there's rumours like this constantly, and most mac rumour sites (and there are plenty) weed through 90% of the bull.

I think this story is getting more press than it really deserves.

"I think this story is getting more press than it really deserves."

Don't you think that was the whole point of the authors in the first place? I mean, here we are, talking about this again! Even if we all end up flaming the authors, here we are.

There is no such thing as bad press. I don't believe for a second it was some "experiment". Please.. it's a press stunt. And it worked.

Maybe a more accurate headline would read "How (almost) the whole Apple community is screwed". On one hand, you have the people who believe this. On the other hand, you have the ones who do not. In the middle is those who don't care. We'll disregard them for this argument.

The people who believe the false rumor of a custom Apple screw are, at least to a large extent, the people who wouldn't put it past Apple. There's a point being made there; Apple has done a lot in their short history of mainstream popularity to lock users out of their hardware and software. A custom screw wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary. With this argument, Apple has developed a notorious reputation and when people are believing this without questioning it, it means the Apple community (as opposed to just Apple users) is screwed.

The ones who would not believe it, I feel, are split into two camps. Ones who saw no evidence of this being true, and ones who could not reconcile it in their mind that Apple would be doing something like this. The ones who didn't believe it because of a lack of evidence is the community Apple (and every other company) needs on their side. The ones who didn't believe it because they didn't want to believe it do so out of a blind love for Apple, and denial that Apple could betray them. Even if this is a small number of people (you can't deny they exist, though), it's still evidence that the Apple community is screwed.

The first group is full of people who either hate Apple for similar-but-opposite reasons to the last group or people who are suspicious of Apple's history (especially after the newest Macbook Pro). There is merit in their mindset, and that's not good for the Apple community. The last group is full of done-no-wrong supporters, who will praise anything Apple creates for better or worse. The lack of critical thinking and constructive feedback and criticism is bad for the Apple community. Who knows if a review of a new product is 10/10 because it's a good product or because it's an Apple product?

This is just my analysis, and I am happy to discuss alternative viewpoints. For what it's worth, I'm not upset that these guys made a fake. It gives a great view into the mindset of Apple news publishings and reactions.

It's not Apple community. It's just people. The same rumor can be started about anything popular with the same success. We had chain letters about facebook charging for access and all kinds of other baloney long time ago. snopes.com has loads of it. There's always some percent of people with low critical thinking, and always some percent of irresponsible bloggers/press which think spreading the rumor is always more profitable than fact-checking it (and they are probably right - nobody ever got rich on ad dollars earned by not publishing something).

Yeap. Hotmail was filled with "Microsoft will close this service if you don't forward this email to all your contacts!!1!". And people did.

I understand that the Apple community is not unique in this regard (I once had a Blackberry Curve user threaten me with violence for insinuating that their phone wasn't a modern smartphone). The point of my argument was specifically that the reactions from this kind of news was bad for the Apple community merely because the Apple community is what the topic is about. I'm specifically calling out the Apple community separate from those who just use Apple products, as I define the Apple community to be the Apple enthusiasts and those who make their living in part or whole due specifically to Apple products (and wouldn't be able to or would be unwilling to do the same work on non-Apple devices). I even partially called out in my post that other companies could be affected by the same mindset.

The reason Apple is at hand in this argument is because Apple is high profile with a very divisive community of both supporters and detractors, and as such has the ability to capture the news on a broader level. It'd be hard to argue that the Hotmail community is negatively impacted by chain emails, for example. Though you are right, this mindset crosses the gap between all products and ways of life.

The flip side is, is it such a crime for blogs to publish these things that seem obviously fake? Even when they qualify it?

We're not talking the New York Times here. We're talking Apple-fan blogs.

If I forward you a link by email of something interesting but probably fake, do you get offended by me sending you something possibly fake? No, if you are interested in Apple stuff, then you probably find it interesting, even if fake.

Casual blogs are the equivalent of passing along interesting stuff found on the internet, fake or not.

> If I forward you a link by email of something interesting but probably fake, do you get offended by me sending you something possibly fake?

Yes. You're wasting my time and making me question your ability to think critically.

I expect this sort of thing from my Grandmother. All others are held accountable.

...Says someone in the business of spreading rumors.

You had the disclaimer on your top level comment but not this one: "(disclaimer: I run MacRumors.com)"

sure, I guess I didn't bother qualify the post, because I wasn't lumping MacRumors in with the "casual Apple-fan blog" in my mind. That's perhaps why we didn't post it.

Their rumor was highly believable precisely because Apple has already done this. They use those stupid pentalobe screws all over the place now, for no reason other than to make it more difficult to open the stuff. It doesn't take any pessimism to think they might do it again.

It's a good lesson, though: even rumors which are totally characteristic of a company and which easily fit in with how they've acted the past still deserve critical thought.

this is true... Although the cult of mac article didn't help by saying the screw would lock you out forever.

Without giving it much thought, i assumed that an asymmetric screw implied that it could only be turned one way. Which would lead me to wonder how many other people were deceived by the title.

There are limits to just how far Apple can take this, since they still need to be able to open stuff up for official repairs.

Is it really for no other reason? Tiny phillips (cross) head screws are really easy to round out.

Torx is a well-established standard that avoids that. By all accounts, pentalobe is worse than torx at this, and I haven't heard of any benefits.

This really reminds me of the game Telephone. Someone whispers a message to the person on their right, who whispers it to the person their right until the circle is closed and the last person whispers the message back to the original sender. Usually, the returning message sounds very different than what the sender sent.

What we're really seeing is the distortion effect the further any statement gets from its source. Someone misunderstands a concept, doesn't understand an idiom used in the statement, or tries to interpret what is being said into their own lens. End result being the statement gets changed from the original. The further the statement goes the higher percentage chance of the telephone effect kicking in.

One could probably do a study, for instance, of game console releases and see the same effect taking place. The first level rumor might be "Look at this cool Xbox809090 faceplate from the factory in China!!" and the tertiary article published in a mainline news article might read "New XBOX Set to shoot lasers out of new faceplate!!!!".

tl;dr The further a message gets from the originator, the higher the chances of it being altered.

Wow. This was always called "Chinese Whispers" in Australia.

I guess my country is just plain racist.

It was always called Chinese whispers in the UK too.

Your analysis is clever, subtle, and a load of bollocks.

First, who are the people who loathe Apple as a malevolent entity that's out to steal their constitutional right - and vital need - to overclock their devices' firmloader hyperkernels? Not "the Apple community" (a nebulous concept in itself), but the legions (well, maniples) of Samsung fandroids that love to tweet and blog and, huh, googleplusify about this kind of thing.

Therefore we could more easily argue that it is that community of Apple haters that is screwed, because of its disconnect from reality, and its inability to see what qualities are more important in a phone/computer/iSomething: these are, presumably, the same people who honestly believe that the iPhone only succeeded because of "marketing", and that it's more important for a laptop to have an easily replaceable display assembly than to weigh a kilogram less.

On the other hand, given that its opponents are reduced to grasping at renderings of imaginary straws, we might well say that the Apple community, far from being screwed, is in fact hot-glued to prosperity and success.

I won't, however, deny that there must be people who love Apple to an excess. I am content with pointing out that there is nothing at all, in this story, that provides the slightest reason to conclude that these people are more numerous than we would otherwise expect; if anything, it might be the opposite. The fact that you are employing an argument so irrelevant that it would be generous to call it a paralogism, then, is itself further proof of how the Linuxoid community is thoroughly screwed (though, to its credit, with standard Philips #0 screws).

That is not to say that I disagree with everything you wrote, of course. Like you, for instance, I am not upset about this fake; and how could I be, when this is the first time I heard of it? Still, if it didn't exactly achieve the widest reach, I agree that it provides some amusing insight into how the Internet tech media works; and so does the commentary. I'm just glad that they came clean with the prank before the release of a slightly-cheaper, slightly-uglier Korean version of the fabled asymmetric screw.

Note: the above is meant as satire and does not reflect the opinions of my employer.

Even with your disclaimer, I'm still having a hard time deciding if you are joking or not. Poe's law in action, from the point of view of the last part of the Apple community I mentioned.

If I may add on to your points, I think if this would've blown up out of proportion it wouldn't actually have helped even if Apple came and made an official statement saying that these rumours are false. Nobody believes Apple in such cases, not even the fans. On the contrary, people would be even more convinced that they are indeed making a new consumer lockout mechanism, and the forums would then be people taking sides, pro or anti-Apple.

"Nobody believes Apple", citation of 1) Apple deliberately lying, 2) everybody, "even the fans", knowing Apple is lying. Even for a fandroid this is cretinous.

This whole thing can be reduced to "people who engage in idle gossip are generally speaking not the sharpest pencils in the box".

Most people with half a brain just kept their mouth shut, so there's really no way to draw any conclusion about the Apple community as a whole, unless you can produce an accurate number on the people that ignored the whole thing.

The funny thing is Apple does make their own screws. When they replaced my back glass at the Apple Store they also replaced the screws so I would be unable to service it later.


Thanks for the link.

I'm a long-time customer of iFixit, but I've been really disappointed in iFixit's attempts to shill their products with FUD (warranted or not) about Apple. It reminds me of the "Chewie's" chewing gum scene in Clerks, where the gum salesman is ranting about the cigarette industry.

Every critical post they make is a long diatribe followed by a shilling of their products that does nothing to solve the larger problem. It's all about selling their product. And hey, it's their right, but I find it tacky.

What's the point of their $10 "liberation" kit? It includes the pentalobe driver for the screws they're replacing. Why would I really need to replace the screws at this point? I don't.

I thought this was a recent iFixit trend, but I see they've been using these tactics for a while.

Kyle from iFixit here. I just wanted to say that we just present our perspective. The way we see things has evolved from taking apart thousands of gizmos and learning from people all around the world what goes wrong with hardware. We're constantly inspired my creative repairs.

Our goal is to help people get things fixed, and encourage designs that are long lasting.

You're certainly welcome to disagree with us. I don't think we're any more opinionated than Apple's designs are. We have a different perspective, and we share it. We back up our opinion with relevant products. People only buy them if they find them useful.

The Liberation kit was a fun way for everyone to get involved in the process. We also sell standalone Pentalobe drivers—so if you want to keep your original screws, you can do that too. Having Phillips screws on your phone is actually quite convenient—most eyeglass kits have the small Phillips drivers, so if you're in much better shape if you ever need to open your phone up to dry it out while you're on a trip. The liberation kit is effectively the same thing Apple techs use when you take it in for service and they swap out your screws for Pentalobe ones.

iFixit isn't about marketing gimmicks. We didn't build the world's largest repair manual and open source it just to sell tools. We're trying to change the world.

Repair is win-win-win. You save some money by making something work again, the manufacturer wins because their product is useful longer, and the environment wins because it didn't end up in a landfill.

I'm convinced that what the world needs now—more than ever—is a free, open source repair manual for every thing. That's what we're building, and it gets better every day.

By publicly suggesting that Apple did something wrong, you guarantee yourself a large number of enemies.

and even larger amount of followers ;)

The issue is more philosophical than practical. see: https://freedom-to-tinker.com/

Note that in this case, an iPhone is locked down enough in hardware and software to where it really doesn't matter if you can open the screws or not. Actually I don't own an iPhone, is there something you can gain by opening it up? Replacing battery or SD card or something?

By opening up an iPhone, you can replace the battery, the front and back glass, the digitizer and display assemblies. (The display assemblies may all be fused together anyway, so I might be redundant here.

The liberation kit is for if you want to replace the screws yourself, or otherwise just unscrew the thing to take a look at the internals.

Which I can do by buying the included pentalobe driver by itself. In other words, it's a big gimmick.

The liberation kit includes the replacement screws, and a philips #00 screwdriver, as well as a pentalobular driver.

$10 is perhaps a bit pricey for some people. I have no idea of the quality of those drivers, but I've spent well over that on single items before.

Paying £30 for a pair of tweezers seems crazy to some people, but if you're using that item for 8 hours a day it makes sense to buy something that you really like. And having spent that much on professional quality tools I'm not fussed about spending £7 on a couple of screws and a couple of screwdrivers.

Doesn't the lib kit come with screws and phillips head?

If you don't have those handy, then it can seem like a good deal.

What's funny is there's no indication from the drawing that the screw would only work in one direction; it just needs a special screwdriver, and you have to spend 10 minutes figuring out its proper orientation. When manufacturers ship non-standard screws, they simply create a market for non-standard screwdrivers. I had to get a three-pronged screwdriver to get into my Wii, and it presented little obstacle. Given the difficulty of actually using this particular design however, a discerning reader, and especially a tech journalist should be able to see that this is completely stupid and impractical. Apple is not in the business of employing technicians to spend half their days orienting screwdrivers.

This is the brave new world of SEO in our media. Once reputable news sources are more than willing to throw all their credibility out the door so that they can be the louder wall of an echo chamber for the sake of impressions.

Didn't the article point out that most of the "major" news sources covering this pointed out that this was an unconfirmed rumor?

That doesn’t affect SEO, does it?

I wish web designers would stop putting light grey text on white backgrounds.

Does anybody else hate those pale, faded out font colors? It does make the page look better when you are glancing at it not trying to read anything but it sure makes reading textual content (the actual point of blogs and most websites) much more difficult.

I'm color blind and frequently turn off colors on webpages. Try this bookmarklet to remove the colors to get a standard black on white page while preserving (most) everything else.

javascript:(function(){var newSS, styles='* { background: white ! important; color: black !important } :link, :link * { color: #0000EE !important } :visited, :visited * { color: #551A8B !important }'; if(document.createStyleSheet) { document.createStyleSheet("javascript:'"+styles+"'"); } else { newSS=document.createElement('link'); newSS.rel='stylesheet'; newSS.href='data:text/css,'+escape(styles); document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0].appendChild(newSS); } })();

Wow, those humongous margins are far worse than the low contrast. Is there a customizable equivalent around?

There is readable [1]. It gives you a bookmarklet with your personal preferences.

[1]: http://readable.tastefulwords.com/

Bookmarklet to turn on/off style sheets:


Makes pretty much any page readable, but combine with noscript/adblock to keep the content from changing.

The media is hungry: there is simply not enough news to report to fill the pages, and real news is dull and requires a lot of effort to understand and write about.

So the media have to grasp every rumor, every speculation, everything which can be made into a scandal.

They would never, ever, say "nothing to see here, pass on". That would be loosing sales for them.

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - Mark Twain (attributed)

"When someone presents a bit of loose facts on Twitter, I usually respond with something like ”64% of the facts on the Internet is 48% incorrect according to 52% of respondents”, completely made up numbers out of my head, but it makes people think a little extra."

I really hate that particular brand of quip.

I find it most often employed by people who want to effortlessly dismiss some statistic that they happen to disagree with.

I'm not claiming that's the case here or that Twitter is full of solid, factual information. Rather, that it's a worthless way to respond. At least the original posts in such cases, no matter how loose provide a context for someone inclined to search out of the facts.

Even if I doubted the veracity of the news, I would still be unhappy about even the concept of an "unremovable" screw on my Apple hardware and my comments would reflect my dissatisfaction with this idea itself, irrespective of veracity. By assuming that people talking on Google+, facebook, twitter, etc. are buying the idea hook, line and sinker, it ignores the likely possibility that some people may just be reacting to the idea itself and hope that their comments, along with the rest of the masses, would dissuade both Apple (in this hypothetical situation) or any company that would attempt a similar design in the future.

of course, the real problem is that Apple will read this rumour and then get the idea of implementing these screws to lock consumers out of their devices and achieve the utopia of "no consumer serviceable parts".

This sounds a whole like like the Sokal Affair - take a look at it on wikipedia if not familiar. And all before the Internet.

This seems awfully irresponsible.

In what way?

Spreading false rumors, especially a potentially damaging one.

The author could have saved a lot of time and effort in coming to the conclusion that distance from the truth is problematic. Jean Baudrillard wrote about it in "Simulacrum and Simulation" 40 years ago, which was adapted into a movie called "Multiplicity," starring Michael Keaton.

First of all, this problem isn't unique to tech journalism or the Internet. Stuff like this has happened in old media several times in the past--where's the outrage for that?

Secondly, the spread of misinformation, when it does happen this quickly, is usually rectified just as quickly. The good thing about most reputable tech blogs is that updates happen quickly and often. Anything you might have accepted as fact one day might be dispelled the next.

Aside from Apple's stock tanking several years ago when Ryan Block published a news story on Engadget about delayed iPhone shipments, when was the last time anyone was hurt by this sort of misinformation, anyway?

I think it's fair to say the Apple community got exactly what it wanted here. This sort of "trick" wouldn't be playable on any other community, because its rabid fanboys tend to care about other things than screws.

Apple fanboys however... They care about the margins of product-announcement papers and reads the future from them like gipsy-queens reads tea-leaves. It's an impressive performance, but still oh so pointless.

Because they miss the important thing: A screw is an implementation detail. What you want is open access to the bits which matters: SIM, battery, storage, platform and bootloaders.

Provide me with that and I couldn't care less what screws you use.

A more interesting question is the drawbacks of taking time to scrutinize, or making more conditional statements, or waiting for confirmation. Meme direction seems to be set pretty early, and hard to move once set. It's a commonplace of politics that you have to react within the news cycle or the story gets away from you, and everyone agrees this is not a good thing.

So anyone taking the time to actually think through a bit is surrendering time, at an important moment in the discussion, to less careful people.

This reminds me of the Sokal Affair: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

Very similar idea - and all before the Internet.

What role does truth play?

I think most readers understand that apple news is rumor (unless it comes from apple). So the reader doesn't really care if the news is true. They want are stating their opinions as if it were true. They may not explicitly say "i know this is probably fake, but if not, apple can go screw themselves."

Similarly, the publishers are purely reporting the existence of this conversation to their readers. Like "hey, this is what folks are talking about, you might be interested".

My grandfather sends me those political chain emails asking if they have any validity. He's pretty skeptical and deletes the majority of these, but every now and again he wants more information. That's where I come in. Last night I responded to one where the author attacked his opponent's credibility without any cited sources, for or against. I wrote him a long response about the need for sources, as well as the need to check the source's credibility.

What this article points out is how the news media is very hungry for new stories, and their need to publish as soon as possible. This means unverified information passes through the journalistic filter. This also points out, like the emails above, that people will generally fall for confirmation bias in many cases. Even HN has bouts of the echo chamber. It's really hard to counter, even when you are actively guarding against it.

Manual critical thinking and checking sources all the time is very mentally draining. I would bet that most to all of us have some form of automatic first-pass mental filter that immediately questions "facts" contained in email chain letters, or the latest fad technology if it has too many buzzwords, or Facebook posts. That is a shortcut we've developed so we don't have to manually think about every bit of information that comes across our desks. It goes immediately to the mental round file.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that do not have this filter. Maybe they haven't mentally trained to look for these kinds of problems. Maybe they were referred to the story by a trusted source, like a good friend or a prominent publication. Maybe the information fell precisely into their particular confirmation bias that it bypassed their skepticism. Political advertising thrives on this problem. Unscrupulous con men thrive off this problem.

But it happens to us all the time. I fall for it all the time, even though I try to find the "real" facts and am generally skeptical of most things. Thus it doesn't surprise me that people fell for the screw hoax, because Apple is traditionally very secretive and has a history of locking out DIYers. That screw fit Apple's MO to a T, and thus likely slipped through many of the internet bullshit filters and went viral. It happens. It will happen again.

The best we can do is try our best to root out false information, and accept that we will be fooled from time to time.

This isn't limited to Apple, this isn't limited to tech. The small fish eat the lies of the smaller fish, and in turn get eaten by the medium fish, and a rumor turns in to a meal down the road for aggregator-type media sites. This happens with tech, but also with gossip, news, politics, everything.

This isn't new, either. This is just a cyclical case of lazy journalism.

Just listen to the news tonight and count how many times dramatic reports are immediately followed by "...independent sources say".

It's really interesting to look at the ways in which media distribution models have changed--especially the level of perceived authenticity in television 40 years ago vs now. As the internet becomes a greater and greater form of information dissemination, new models are going to need to develop in order to provide truth in media.

For more information on how the media is manipulated in the 21st century, check out Ryan Holiday's book: http://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lying-Confessions-Manipulator...

Clearly the game of Telephone has never been able to have a higher impact than it does today with the speed and scale of the social internet.

But I think there is one question left unanswered: Why are we assuming this story itself is in fact true? Because it's written on a blog? :)

Reminds me of this book: Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator http://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lying-Confessions-Manipulator...

I wonder how often companies pull stunts this against their competitors.

Would the Mojave bait-and-switch count? Like this article, it was intended to be publicly revealed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojave_Experiment

I see what happened. Apple, attempting to mitigate the damage caused when drawings of their new incompatible screw design leaked, has found a couple of patsies to claim it was a hoax.

>We must become more critical of what we read and think 'Is this reasonable? '

The problem w/ this prescription is that just b/c something is 'unreasonable' to us doesn't make it untrue.

"Apple is the world’s largest company". Last time I checked Apple was listed somewhere around 30 (20th for most profitable). Maybe Day4 didn't check there facts...

This reminds me of a Dilbert episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEOOFanQms0

Hold on. How do we know this article is even true?!

Funny, after reading i thought this too, so did some google'n... how do we know google isn't in on this too? <.<

All the more reason why we need to teach kids in elem schools now how to identify real info and research sources. What a mess.

(iFixit here.) We told every reporter we talked to that it was a fake. But we didn't get very many calls.

Could somebody explain what makes any of this stuff "security"?

Go ahead and make some weird top secret screw. We'll 3D print a drive for it.

Does anyone else have a really hard time reading this? Need a little more contrast on the font color, por favor.

Make the body font on your blog bigger - its all out of proportion with the rest of the site design.

I think it'd be hilariously ironic if a story came out next week claiming this story to be a fake.

On the net, everyday is April 1st.

Didn't hear about this. Apple user. Guess the "(almost)" is a very large or small almost.

Apple is the world’s largest company, so they can take a few knocks.

Claims the article, by what measure?

It was true for a moment by market cap. That's probably where they got the notion.


They're called _rumors_ a for reason. People expect most rumors to be bullshit anyway.

Please change title to: How we (almost) screwed the whole Apple community


Another day, another blog with low-contrast text.

So if I post an article about RIM betting the farm in a new phone based on Solaris and the stock tanks because of the domino effect in the news, am I liable?

Yep, the poster should be in jail.

This is absolutely hilarious. Come up with some !@#% that doesn't make any sense and watch the hordes make it the most important news since the invention of agriculture!

unrelated discussion. did anyone think this site is hard to read? the font size and color...

It's funny because it's a pun.


The irony is thick enough to cut with an asymmetrical knife.

The big deal is that you didn't read the article.

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