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CPRC at the Daily Caller: BuzzFeed’s Founder Spreads False Information. I Was One Of His Victims

24 Jan , 2017  

Dr. John Lott has a new op-ed piece at the Daily Caller that discussed Jonah Peretti’s past of impersonating

At the moment, media outlets want nothing to do with BuzzFeed, the “news” website that published unverified, “fake” allegations against Donald Trump.  The allegations are so flimsy that even Trump’s political opponents never used them.

What few know is that BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has a history of  knowingly spreading false information. He has used fraudulent websites and email accounts to pretend to be people he wished to defame. I was one of his victims.

But I wasn’t Peretti’s first victim. In 2001, MBA student Jeff Goldblatt set up a dating service called the Rejection Hotline, which was inadvertently in competition with Peretti’s newly created rejectionline.com. Peretti co-founded the service with his sister, Chelsea Peretti, who contacted Goldblatt in order to get information on his business. She “interviewed” him, pretending to be New York-based reporter Vanessa Holmes.

Then Jonah Peretti set up the website JeffGoldblatt.com, under the pretense that it was Goldblatt’s personal website.  Using the address me@JeffGoldblatt.com, Peretti sent out emails that, according to Goldblatt, “contained multiple lies about me and portrayed me as an arrogant jerk who was bragging about how I stole the idea of the New York City Rejection Line.”

Goldblatt contacted me after Peretti did the same thing to me in 2003.  In my case, Peretti set up AskJohnLott.org and used the email address, john@AskJohnLott.org.  Peretti’s expropriation of my name wasn’t for financial gain, but to support gun control.

Pretending to be me, Peretti sent out tens of thousands of mass emails lobbying against the proposed Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This bill, which passed in 2005, shielded gun makers from abusive lawsuits that were solely designed to put manufacturers out of business with overwhelming legal fees. . . .

The rest of the piece is available here.

Here is a detailed discussion with some of the evidence of Peretti’s behavior.  It repeats the above email and then presents some of the evidence in bold.  We presented the above op-ed simply because it can be difficult to read with all the breaks for the evidence.

At the moment, media outlets want nothing to do with Buzzfeed, the “news” website that published unverified, “fake” allegations against Donald Trump.  The allegations are so flimsy that even Trump’s political opponents never used them.

What few know is that Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti has a history of  knowingly spreading false information. He has used fraudulent websites and email accounts to pretend to be people he wished to defame. I was one of his victims.

But I wasn’t Peretti’s first victim. In 2001, MBA student Jeff Goldblatt set up a dating service called the Rejection Hotline, which was inadvertently in competition with Peretti’s newly created rejectionline.com. Peretti co-founded the service with his sister, Chelsea Peretti, who contacted Goldblatt in order to get information on his business. She “interviewed” him, pretending to be a free-lance reporter for the New York Times named Vanessa Holmes.

Here are relevant portions of a very long email from Jeff Goldblatt.

From: “Jeff Goldblatt”

Date: Mon Sep 8, 2003  6:45:48  PM US/Eastern

To: “John Lott”

Cc: “Jeff Goldblatt”

Subject: All the background info…

John,

Thanks for taking my call today. Like I said earlier, I’m happy to help you out in ANY way I can. This guy has caused me a great deal of stress over the last year, but unfortunately I’m a struggling entrepreneur by day and a part-time grad student by night so I didn’t really have the financial resources to go after him myself.  Here’s a background of all my dealings with Jonah Peretti.

BACKGROUND:

— I started my Rejection Hotline in Atlanta in the summer of 2001.  It began simply as a humorous joke amongst myself and a few friends and it stayed very small until the end of 2001when it slowly started gaining popularity. I eventually put up a website, RejectionHotline.com in January of 2002, and attempted to turn it into a a small business by selling

Rejection business cards on our website.

— Unbeknownst to me, there was a similar rejection phone number service being provided in New York around that same time and their website, RejectionLine.com, was registered five months before mine. Ours had been around for more than 5 months, we just hadn’t registered the website. Jonah Peretti and his sister Chelsea (the co-creators of rejectionline.com) concluded that since their domain name was registered before my domain name was registered, then I must have stolen their idea.

—  My Rejection Hotline was getting bigger and bigger and I had expanded it to multiple new cities and we began receiving media coverage.  On June 16th 2002, I was contacted via e-mail by someone claiming to be named Vanessa Holmes who was supposedly a freelance reporter for the New York Times.  Since we had already started getting some media coverage, I fell for it and did an online interview with her through a series of e-mails. I have copies of ALL the e-mails from them, including this final e-mail where they admit that it was them.:

Jeff,

Thanks for clarifying. The rejectionline domain name was registered on August 23rd, 2001; whereas your website was registered on January 12th, 2002, five months later. I still think I can get your story in there if you send me some naked pictures of your dad.

Thanks! You’re incredible, Jeff. You are seriously IN-credible!

Best wishes,

Chelsea Vanessa Peretti and Jonah Holmes Peretti

Rejectionline.com 

. . . 

Then Jonah Peretti set up the website JeffGoldblatt.com, under the pretense that it was Goldblatt’s personal website.  Using the address me@JeffGoldblatt.com, Peretti sent out emails that, according to Goldblatt, “contained multiple lies about me and portrayed me as an arrogant jerk who was bragging about how I stole the idea of the New York City Rejection Line.”

— About three months later, in September of 2002, I stumbled upon JeffGoldblatt.com.  I was furious.  The site claimed to be my personal homepage (which it obviously wasn’t), had my photograph (which neither I nor the Atlanta Journal Constitution Photographer who took the photo had given permission for), had my Rejection Hotline logo (which they didn’t have permission to use), and it was written in letter form claiming to be a letter written by me to my fans.  The contained multiple lies about me and portrayed me as an arrogant jerk who was bragging about how I stole the idea of the New York City Rejection Line (which I did not).  Further, there was an e-mail address at the bottom where anyone could supposedly contact me by writing to me@JeffGoldblatt.com (obviously I have no idea how many people actually sent e-mails to that address because the e-mails went to them and not me).  And he feels all that is justified because he’s got that little disclaimer at the bottom of the page (which every legal person I’ve talked to has told me isn’t worth anything and wouldn’t hold up).

. . .

Thanks,

Jeff Goldblatt

(Telephone number withheld)

——————————————————–

Jeff Goldblatt

Goizueta Business School of Emory University

Evening MBA Class of 2005

(Telephone number and email address withheld)

——————————————————–

Jeff Goldblatt

    President, Dream Pursuit Communications, L.L.C.

    (Attacking Serious Issues with Fun Solutions)

    Founder, Rejection Hotline (www.RejectionHotline.com) . . .

——————————————————–

Goldblatt contacted me after Peretti did the same thing to me in 2003.  In my case, Peretti set up AskJohnLott.org and used the email address, john@AskJohnLott.org.  Peretti’s expropriation of my name wasn’t for financial gain, but to support gun control.

Pretending to be me, Peretti sent out tens of thousands of mass emails lobbying against the proposed Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This bill, which passed in 2005, shielded gun makers from abusive lawsuits that were solely designed to put manufacturers out of business with overwhelming legal fees.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/gun-statistics-expert-john-lott-victim-identity-theft

22nd paragraph

In other email messages reviewed by CNSNews.com , the unknown author claiming to be Lott inaccurately stated Lott’s position on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act currently under consideration by the Senate. Lott supports the legislation, which would block lawsuits against gun makers, distributors and dealers when criminals misuse a lawfully sold firearm.

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/postsbyday/fraudulentsiteposts.html

Part of one of the emails that Peretti sent out.

So one stance I’m taking is to question the necessity of the immunity bill. While I know there have been many unfair lawsuits against gun manufacturers, I’m starting to believe that safer, tight restrictions will come from the privatized world, rather than the government agencies. If the gun manufacturers can still maintain a sense of fear of lawsuit, then they can do more to prevent the guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Besides sending out emails, Peretti went so far as to pay to advertise his fake site in Google search.   This advertising appeared at the very beginning of the search results on my name.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/gun-statistics-expert-john-lott-victim-identity-theft

Paragraphs 4 to 7

But the Google search also displayed “a sponsored link” for the web page “AskJohnLott.org.”

“Ask John Lott: You can ask him any question you have about gun control or his books www.askjohnlott.org,” the paid advertisement claimed, followed by a graphic indicator showing high interest in the website.

The only problem with both the advertisement and the website is that neither was authorized by Lott.

“I think 90-some percent of people who look at it will probably think it’s done by me,” the real Lott told CNSNews.com Friday. “When you look at the front page, it’s not exactly my writing style, but it … has my picture, it has a letter on the introductory page that [purports to be] signed by me.” . . .

I was fairly well-known for my research on gun control, and my book “More Guns, Less Crime,” and Peretti sent emails under my name to convince people who that I had changed my mind and come out against the Act.  The emails then urged people to ask their congressmen and Senators to oppose the bill.

A number of the recipients were people I knew, and some wrote back questioning why I would have changed my mind.  But Peretti continued the charade in multiple email chains.

I first learned about the website from James K. Glassman, a former Washington Post columnist and later U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. He shared with me the email exchange that he had with Peretti’s fake John Lott.

From: “Jim Glassman”

Date: Wed Jul 30, 2003 2:30:34 AM US/Eastern

To: “John Lott”

Subject: Fwd: Your Emails

john: fyi: from the phony site. maybe it will help you track this guy down.—Jim

From: “John Lott”

Date: Tue Jul 29, 2003 6:10:00 PM US/Eastern

To: “Jim Glassman”

Subject: Your Emails

Dear Jim.

I see that you have sent me emails, but for some reason the text that you wrote didn’t come through. But I have a feeling I know what it’s about, I meant to tell you about this site before it launched but never got around to it, I’ll give you a call soon.

Thanks

John

*** Note despite the impression given, this email signed “John” was not sent by me.

Peretti had also used my name and picture to advise people on how to violate gun control laws.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/jul/31/20030731-110242-1706r/

Inside Politics 

By Jennifer Harper

THE WASHINGTON TIMES 

July 31, 2003

“People have e-mailed the site [asking questions] and you get an e-mail back, supposedly signed by me, making some fairly outrageous statements that I would disown,” said Mr. Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. . . .

The site features the question, “Can I buy hundreds of semi-automatics without being reported to law enforcement?” And it attributes to Mr. Lott this answer: “Yes, you’re in luck. Licensed gun dealers have no requirements to report multiple sales of long guns, even though this is the kind of gun that terrorist organizations love.”

Soon I was being contacted by hundreds of people around the country.  I received many angry phone calls from people upset that I was supposedly advising people to break the law.

My emails to john@AskJohnLott.org asking who was behind the effort were ignored.  The website’s registration didn’t help as it was supposedly registered to me.  I spent money to find out who was behind these efforts.  When I contacted Peretti, he denied any involvement.  After I hired lawyers, Peretti finally included a disclaimer on the website, stating that he intended to parody me. But he still refused to take down the website down or stop sending emails.

Because Goldblatt didn’t have the money for a legal battle, I included him in my case.

It took a year-and-a-half to finally reach a legal settlement. Peretti, who worked for a company called Eyebeam, publicly acknowledged: “The AskJohnLott.org site was created by The Eyebeam Atelier, Inc. This site was never associated, endorsed or otherwise affiliated with John R. Lott, Jr. E-mail sent from the AskJohnLott.org domain that was identified as coming from Lott was also never associated, endorsed or otherwise affiliated with John R. Lott, Jr. Eyebeam deeply regrets any confusion and offers a formal apology to John R. Lott, Jr. The terms of the settlement are confidential.”

From: “do-not-reply@eyebeam.org” <do-not-reply@eyebeam.org>

Subject: One time announcement

Date: Thursday, December 30, 2004 at Thursday, December 30, 3:28 PM

To: <announcement@eyebeam.org>

Reply-To: <announcement@eyebeam.org>

The AskJohnLott.org site was created by The Eyebeam Atelier, Inc.  This site was never associated, endorsed or otherwise affiliated with John R. Lott, Jr.  E-mail sent from the AskJohnLott.org domain that was identified as coming from Lott was also never associated, endorsed or otherwise affiliated with John R. Lott, Jr.  Eyebeam deeply regrets any confusion and offers a formal apology to John R. Lott, Jr.  The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Jonah Peretti for Eyebeam

Director of Research and Development 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/madisonpauly/why-taylor-woolrich-wanted-a-gun?utm_term=.nmAzPm3JN#.pkG2LKBqO 

A Buzzfeed article, of which Peretti is the CEO and Founder of, ran this statement

Aug. 13, 2015, at 9:22 p.m

(Around this time, Lott also sued eventual BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti for impersonating him online. The two subsequently settled out of court and Peretti apologized.)

Peretti also apologized to Goldblatt and took down JeffGoldblat.com.  I received an undisclosed monetary settlement.

This week, people are asking how Buzzfeed could possibly publish such “fake” news against Trump.  They need look no further than Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti.

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1 Response

  1. rappini says:

    Thanks for the clarification.

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