I saw this little gem on Twitter earlier and thought: hoho, someone's duped the Sun! Lol innit?!
The story is by blogger "Idiot Forever" and is of how he sent an email to the Sun about an impending divorce due to Google Street View and they printed it in this story here and it was cobblers. All teh lolz.
Now as you know from earlier today I'm no fan of the Sun, and regard it as a home of crap journalism and all-round shiteness. So look, here's a story which confirms my prejudices - great!
But... it's too good to be true, I'm afraid, as some rudimentary fact-sniffing reveals. Idiot Forever claims:
I sent them a picture of the said offending street view. The email was boring so I’m not going to post it, but The Sun quickly responded. They thanked me for the information and asked me if I was Mark Stephens, the media lawyer. I shrugged (even though they couldn’t see me shrug) and basically responded “yeah, sure”.
Apparently I hit a streak of good luck. I got the name Mark Stephens from one of those internet random name generators and went with it. I guess Mark Stephens is a known media lawyer in Britain.
Mm, that would be the same Mark Stephens who wrote this story in The Times about Street View, which is clearly the real source for the Sun's effort...? Stephens in The Times:
Talking about away games, my divorce department has just received its first instructions based on a wife who spotted her husband’s Range Rover at a lady friend’s house, when he said that he was away on a business trip. The putative ex-husband has a singular interest in pimped-up hub caps that were apparently the identifying feature. I suspect the husband’s lawyers will consider bringing in Google as a third party to indemnify against its invasion of privacy that has cost a marriage and will cost him his Range Rover.
Hmm. Let's leave aside whether the Range Rover story itself is true or not for a moment (and we have no reason to doubt the real Mark Stephens). There is no Range Rover on the Google Street View image that Idiot Forever claims to have pulled out of thin air - at least not as far as I can see.
Anyway, the Sun story is simply a bit of churnalism harvesting the first-person Times piece and recycling it into a quote for its readers:
Top media lawyer Mark Stephens said: “I was talking about the Range Rover case when another divorce lawyer came up to say his firm was dealing with the same sort of thing. People are getting caught out on Google.
“I suspect the husband’s lawyers will claim it was an invasion of privacy that will cost him his marriage and Range Rover.”
And with the added bonus of asking readers whether they know the people involved so they can follow it up for a bit of cash. So nothing to do with Idiot Forever at all, then, unfortunately. I wonder what his game is? Maybe trying to catch people out who might dislike the Sun and find it a funny story, and who don't employ the same kind of fact-checking skills they would attack the tabloids for? Whatever, it just goes to show you can't be too careful, as David Mitchell would say.