Seems like the best way to get publicity (and hits) for your web site these days is to report on a highly questionable story with no supporting evidence or facts, tack on a Digg worthy headline about Apple selling porn to minors and sit back as the swarm attacks the honey pot. The original report appears on The Consumerist, a consumer watch dog blog, and as of this writing the 2 sentence post titled, “Apple Sells “Refreshed” Laptop Filled With Porn To 11 Year Old Girl” has garnered close to 1300 Diggs and is rising fast. Now to be fair the post does also include a transcript of a chat with a friend of the owner of the new, porn laden, MacBook. In the transcript the friend says the laptop was sold with a “desktop full of JPGs” containing porn. Later in the same chat though, he admits that he doesn’t know how much porn, what type of porn and there is no evidence of the porn as the owner already restored the machine from the original system DVD. Now of course this is hardly definitive evidence that the story isn’t true, but come on. True or not, my point is not many Diggers will even bother to read that far into the story. Heck, I doubt they even click anything other the “Digg it” link.
Refreshed or Refurbished
Now another problem with this story is that while the headline on the Consumerist website clearly states it was a “refreshed” MacBook, most blogs picking up the story are reporting it as a “refurbished” model. The semantics are subtle but there is a big difference. A “refreshed” model is basically an “open box” return. It was returned to the store, but not because of any defect. Could be buyers remorse, wrong model, etc. In these cases Apple services the unit in store. They basically look it over, run simple diagnostics and then are supposed to run the system restore CD/DVD (that comes with the model) to get the machine back into factory condition. Now on the slim chance this story is true then the Apple Store employees obviously forgot to do this procedure. A “reconditioned” model however, is one sent back to Apple due to some sort of defect. It is put through a much more rigorous process, restored and tested at a centralized facility. Again, if the story is actually true then the distinction between “refreshed” and “reconditioned” may go a long way to explaining why this unit slipped by.
As for the quality of stories on Digg, don’t get me wrong. I love Digg and I use it, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves what Digg is. Digg is a great indicator of what is socially hip on the web at any given moment, but hardly a bastion of links to highest quality news stories. I’m just sayin’.