On Wednesday, commentator Andrew Sullivan ripped into BuzzFeed for the publication’s story on Elan Gale’s supposed encounter with an obnoxious Thanksgiving airline passenger. The encounter turned out to be a hoax – a hoax that brought BuzzFeed well over 1.4 million pageviews. Sullivan writes:
By gleefully running unchecked hoaxes, and then insisting that they really do care about truth, Buzzfeed muddies the waters still further. What’s striking to me about Buzzfeed is that they haven’t really sufficiently thought through what it means to deliberately deceive readers by running advertizing as editorial, or what it means to be both an instant entertainment provider whose success is measured in jumping on viral waves seconds before their competitors, and to claim to be journalism.