Updated Telecoms giant and proud defender of the third estate, Verizon, has entered the media market on its own, bankrolling a new tech news site, SugarString. There is a small catch, however.
According to one reporter who says he was approached to work for the site, writers for SugarString are banned from reporting on or even mentioning two of the biggest tech news stories: net neutrality and mass online surveillance by the US government.
The Daily Dot's Patrick O'Neill reports that "writer and media strategist" Cole Stryker emailed him and other reporters claiming to be the editor of SugarString and inviting them to help bring Verizon's particular blend of censored material to the world.
As Stryker reportedly warned his potential recruits in personal messages: "Downside is there are two verboten topics (spying and net neutrality), but I've been given a pretty wide berth to cover pretty much all other topics that touch tech in some way."
So welcome to Verizon's Year Zero. Because while most other media outlets continue to unhelpfully point out that the carrier:
- Gave access to its phone records to the NSA without requiring a warrant or telling its customers
- Continues to provide information on all telephone calls in its system on an "ongoing, daily basis"
- Receives millions of dollars from the US government each year for handing over its customers private details; and
- Was dropped by the German government after it was revealed that the NSA was tapping the personal phone of its Chancellor
... the new, Verizon-approved tech news site apparently will not feature any such unnecessary unpleasantness.
As for Verizon's second unmentionable tech story – the extraordinary effort by US telecoms companies to undercut a key principle of the internet's functioning in order to boost profits – well, that apparently is not, how do we say, on the radar of SugarString, either.
So while on some websites you may be able to discover such unimportant details such as:
- Verizon suing the FCC in order to kill the original net neutrality rules
- Other ISPs being annoyed with Verizon for doing so because it might backfire on them
- Companies accusing Verizon of purposefully slowing down Netflix videos in order to pressure them into paying Verizon more money
... none of that sort of nonsense will make it to the super-clean SugarString site. So rest quiet, America, everything is fine here. ®
Verizon got in touch with The Register on Wednesday seemingly to distance itself from Cole Stryker's alleged comments:
SugarString is a pilot project from Verizon Wireless' marketing group, designed to address tech trends, especially those of interest to our customers. Unlike the characterization by its new editor, SugarString is open to all topics that fit its mission and elevate the conversation around technology.
So far, however, searches on SugarString for "net neutrality," "NSA," and "surveillance" yield no relevant results.