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Culture jammers spoof WTO web site

'Deceitful and a nuisance to serious users'

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The World Trade Organisation is fuming over a spoof Web site which copies the WTO's design but subverts the text to support the aims of anti-global protesters.

The Web site, at www.gatt.org (referring to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, WTO's predecessor), has been up and running since September.

The site is owned by Prince & Associates in Washington (according to the whois) with the somewhat dodgy editorial contact of jonathan@killyourtv.com.

Reuters reckons it is owned by RTMark, a Net community whose aim is to "support the sabotage (informative alteration) of corporate products, from dolls and children's learning tools to electronic action games, by channelling funds from investors to workers for specific projects grouped into 'mutual funds'." Its site is at www.rtmark.com.

In other words, www.gatt.org is a classic example of culture-jamming, the playful anti-capitalist tool of choice made famous by Naomi Klein through her book No Logo.

Real WTO v. Surreal WTO

The real WTO site - www.wto.org - has posted the following headline on its site : "Fake WTO website www.gatt.org deceitful and a nuisance to serious users".

Click this and you get this message: "The use of WTO designs, logos and materials is strictly unauthorized. Worse, some pages on the fake website could cause unsuspecting visitors to reveal their email addresses and other information to the site's operators. The fake site could also be picked up by search engines, a nuisance for serious users looking for genuine information."

Looks like the real WTO is unamused, especially since the surreal WTO Web site is a pretty professional job and subtle-ish in its criticism of WTO. It also tackles nasty subjects like IBM/Nazis, AIDS drugs and suspicious business habits.

In an excellent article we've found on Infotoday.com titled Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation, the author claims that a significant number who viewed the site believed it to be the real WTO site.

The WTO has been a target for the modern army of anti-globalisation protestors, mostly famously in Seattle. A new WTO meet is to take place in Qatar in the Persian Gulf. According to the surreal WTO site, no-one wanted to host the event and Qatar is not renowned for the gentle way it deals with protestors. ®

Related Links

www.gatt.org
www.wto.org
Infotoday article on Web hoaxes

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