Over one million unique visitors logged on to RT.com in the last 24 hours, and while we can’t say that a particularly well-crafted headline or social media campaign got us that far, we do have an idea how it happened.
At RT, we suspect that the recent surge in traffic has something to do with us serving as the only major news source following the biggest story of the day.
On Thursday afternoon, news broke that some of the biggest websites belonging to the US government and the entertainment industry were collapsing, one-by-one. The action, retaliation for a raid earlier that day on the file sharing service Megaupload, escalated over the course of hours and eventually crippled the websites for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Justice Department and the Recording Industry Associate of America, among others.
But even if you weren’t trying to get a job with the FBI, browsing case records or checking sales stats on the new Justin Bieber EP, you might not know that several major entertainment and government websites were shut down.
That’s because even though thousands of hacktivists attacked the websites for the FBI, the US Copyright office, the DoJ and the RIAA — along with several other related sites — on Thursday, the mainstream media by and large were blind to a massive campaign launched by some very angry users of the World Wide Web.
The mainstream media did cover, to a degree, an early Thursday raid on the website Megaupload, a crackdown that involved arresting several affiliated persons for their role in what US authorities say was a massive conspiracy that raked in millions of dollars, robbed the entertainment world of potentially billions and violated an entire slew of copyright laws. The aftermath, however, an online attack launched at both the Hollywood and Washington DC entities responsible for the raid — went unnoticed.
That is, of course, except for on RT.
When the first domino fell, the website for the DoJ, RT was among the first to relay the info to our online audience, tweeting the news, crafting a story and coordinating with contacts to get to the bottom of the assault. At RT, we thought that a cyberattacks on the Judicial Branch of the United States and the FBI warranted breaking news status. Others, it seems, were somewhat skeptical, to say the least.
As RT broke the story and continued to follow through with update after update throughout the evening, the other outlets left the story where they thought it belonged: under the radar of their own audiences. The campaign that took down at least half a dozen major sites became the largest assault organized by operatives with the loose knit collective Anonymous, with close to 6,000 people at one point engaged in the online war.
Hours later, CNN chimed in. MSNBC followed through as well. Fox News? Well, they didn’t say anything. Fox might call themselves the most trusted name in news, but it is easy to get away with that if you don’t report any. You can’t be reporting lies if you don’t report anything, now can you?
Big Government, the website run by Andrew Breitbart that attacked RT in recent weeks for our coverage of Editor in Chief Dana Loesch’s enthusiasm and support for the US Marines that urinated on slain Afghans, eventually carried the story as well — also hours after the fact.
On Thursday afternoon, the retaliation for the Megaupload raid brought RIAA.org, Copyright.gov and Justice.gov to a crippling halt, forcing the sites offline after thousands of users participated in an online campaign to demand the US reassess their War on the Web. Also affected was the official government site for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the online hubs for the Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Music Group, the largest record label in America that had previously put out a hit on Megaupload. The White House was also faced with an all-out web assault, but despite the massive campaign that nearly brown down the Executive Branch’s online presence, the mainstream media was just as in the dark as the RIAA’s website.
Hours after we first started reporting, one email rolled into the RT Web Department, in which an operative participating in the Anonymous-led campaign wrote that they had been approached by CNN, “but I can be of service to RT, because I believe they're real news.”
Fair and balanced? We try to be. The most trusted name in news? To many. One thing we are sure of, however, is we try to bring to the masses news that is not just relevant and important to you, our audience, but what you want to see as well. While we can’t say we supported the raid on Megaupload or the attack that followed, we can without a doubt say we were there for you, because at RT, we know what news is — and we thank you for choosing us as your source for it.