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Sprinting To False Conclusions

By 30 March 2010 2 Comments

The words “we were wrong” apparently are not in the vocabulary at Free Press and Public Knowledge.

The groups say Sprint is blocking text messages for Haiti earthquake relief, but as Digital Society director Michael Turk noted last week, the wireless carrier is just following procedures designed to protect its customers from phony charities.

Despite Free Press acknowledging privately to Sprint that the company has not blocked the “short code” for text-based relief donations, the group is still embracing that false storyline publicly — on its blog and Facebook fan page, and in a misleading petition. Public Knowledge repeated the false allegation in a new video. And both groups complained to the FCC.

The campaign of distortion was enough to make Sprint spokesman John Taylor expose the two faces of the “public interest” groups. Here’s what he has had to say to and about Free Press and Public Knowledge the past few days:

Our concern is that Free Press, Public Knowledge and others have created the false impression that Sprint has blocked mobile fundraising by [Catholic Relief Services]. We have not done so, and it’s damaging to the credibility of Free Press to suggest otherwise. … I hate to see Free Press mislead the public in this way.

The most important point for people to know is despite the claims by Free Press and Public Knowledge, there has been no shutdown of this code by Sprint. I’ve spoken to Chris Riley and Liz Rose at Free Press earlier today, and [they] agreed that that was the case; I’m not sure why the Facebook page is still misleading people into believing otherwise.

I don’t understand why either organization would risk damaging their credibility by deliberately misleading reporters and the public into believing that Sprint’s business practices are something different than they actually are. … [T]he next time I read a news story quoting someone from Public Knowledge and Free Press, I will look at their claims more carefully.

It’s clear that Free Press and Public Knowledge are determined to achieve their policy goal — “impose a rule of law to govern text messaging” — even if that means continuing to misrepresent facts.


  • Brett Glass said:

    If you read a story by Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post, examine its claims very carefully too. Kang routinely quotes the PR people from Public Knowledge and Free Press, and does some lobbying in print of her own for Google. Payback for Google’s placement of ads in her blog? Or is she bucking for a job as a Google lobbyist? Hard to tell, but her bias is surely unethical.