Plausible deniability is the term given to the creation of loose and informal chains of command in governments and other large organizations. In the case that assassinations, false flag or black ops or any other illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any connection to or awareness of such act, or the agents used to carry out such act.
In politics and espionage, deniability refers to the ability of a “powerful player” or actor to avoid “blowback” by secretly arranging for an action to be taken on their behalf by a third partyâ€”ostensibly unconnected with the major player.
More generally, “plausible deniability” can also apply to any act that leaves little or no evidence of wrongdoing or abuse. Examples of this are the use of electricity or pain-compliance holds as a means of torture or punishment, leaving little or no tangible signs that the abuse ever took place.
I can understand Om Malik’s reason for not attending, a bad back – nice, clear, understandable, totally excusable.
There is some doubt over Michael Arrington’s claims, for instance Wendy says she posted after confirmation with the organisers.
Michael Arrington’s specific words
I never agreed to attend the conference.
I would really appreciate it if the organizers of Blogworld would post something clearing this up.
You forgot to come? At least lie to us, lol.
Digging Into The Facts
There was a little bit of a storm in a teacup just a month ago over a bit of clumsy email marketing, which also involved Techcrunch writer Duncan Riley.
Within that there was some telling evidence to this situation, at least in my mind.
This is what Duncan Riley wrote in an email to Rick Calvert that appears in a blog post on the Blogworld Expo blog (Emphasis is mine)
Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 1:01 AM
Subject: Re: Come Join Us at the Worldâ€™s Largest Blogging Conference
I know Michael is speaking, I write for TechCrunch. Iâ€™m not sure whether to take this as spam or not, particularly given that Iâ€™ve already discussed with the organizers the rumor that I wasnâ€™t invited due to a sponsor. In fact the face that youâ€™ve pulled out a random post on my personal blog makes this sound a lot like spam.
Best of luck with it.
So Duncan acknowledges that Michael Arrington is attending, and qualifies that statement by implying he know that because he is a staff writer for Techcrunch, not because of any misleading advertising material.
There is contrary evidence, Michael declining in the Facebook group but I must admit I do that almost as an automatic thing myself, often after the event. People can always change their mind.
My reading of the facts is there might have been some communication mistakes, these things happen, but with people inside Michael’s own Techcrunch organisation thinking he was attending less than a month before the event, the communication problems are certainly on both sides.
What Really Matters
I said at the start the facts don’t matter at all, but if I was attending, and even as an observer halfway around the world, I can’t believe even a comedy of errors could be maintained for so long without Michael Arrington stepping up and saying he was not attending before the event.
Even Andy Beal, who has his finger on the pulse all the time didn’t know Michael wasn’t going to be at the keynote until he didn’t appear on stage.
Michael Chose His Words Very Carefully
In the run up to Blogworld Expo, Techcrunch were gaining a lot of links and exposure, it would be impossible for anyone with any hint of reputation management and online knowledge to not notice appearing in blog posts for months before the event on an almost daily basis.
But the “I didn’t confirm” was allowed to continue, because it benefited Techcrunch, even up to the time Michael was due to appear on stage for the first time.
Now the truth is out, even more links, links are valuable, and in public relations, there is no such thing as bad press.
The Rumour Industry
Techcrunch is head of the tech industry rumour mill, and as such prints a lot of stories that may or may not be true, and sometimes they get told the information is incorrect, and sometimes misleading information is allowed to persist, because it is good for stock prices.
A good example of that in recent times is the Google Phone, which turned out to be an open operating system for mobile phone manufacturers.
I can understand the need to be the first with the big scoop, the speculation, the increased readership that drives advertising dollars.
But should those reporting use plausible deniability and let it run across the blogosphere knowing that it is totally untrue, but it is good for marketing?
If you are a product manufacturer or service provider, there is a strategic benefit to keep users or competitors in doubt… sometimes. It is not just a marketing thing to leak rumours, and the press and bloggers eat up the morsels anyway.
For a blogger or press outlet to allow news to continue to be written about them knowing it is misleading or false leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
For me, this is a thing of trust. I have lost trust in much of what Techcrunch writes, in just the same way people would lose trust of bloggers writing paid posts without some form of disclosure.
I mention paid posts for a reason, I would have loved as a blog reader to see people’s thoughts of the New Media Fundraising presentation.
That was to include David Cohen, Brad Feld, Dan Rua, and…. Michael Arrington. Dan is an investor in Izea/PayPerPost and has had multiple exchanges with Michael Arrington over PayPerPost, not just ethically, but also the financial stability of the company gaining B round investment from the same group of investors.
David Cohen, just the day before the presentation still thought Michael was attending.
I haven’t seen any reports from the session, so it is possible it didn’t even happen, or the “clash of the investors” was made less attractive.
Plausible deniability just doesn’t cut it Mr Arrington
Michael Arrington Updates
Michael Arrington has updated his post to reflect on additional attacks, and also he has managed to have a chat with Rick the organizer.
It is well worth reading, though I can now see how this happens.
From what I can see
Michael gets far too much email – only reads 10% of it. He should create a more private email for friends, and then get a PA handle the rest.
Michael doesn’t do any reputation management and states that he doesn’t read all the negative commentary – again that could be outsourced
Michael did however state in his update that:-
My response to them was â€œIâ€™m attending an event this week?â€
Thus he was aware before the event that he was expected to be speaking, and knew he wasn’t.
This whole issue could have been cleared up before the event and should have been.
Rick has posted the BlogWorld Expo side of the story on their blog.
It seems to me there was a lot more communication than was suggested in the initial Crunchnotes post by Michael Arrington, and to be honest it seems that there was more than even currently included on Crunchnotes after a number of updates.
In Mike’s final update he suggests he should have claimed he had the flu, or similar.