Category Archives: Wall of Shame

MTL Blog caught with hidden sponsored content

Recently MTL Blog got caught using an non-declared organic content ad masquerading as real content, which you can read up on here. This is a paid placement masquerading as normal content. This was brough to light thanks to a mention on Twitter during the #askmtlblog smack down, which was triggered by the in depth article from Fagstein that asks 40 questions and digs up some information.

So CBC also did some follow up on it and sheds some light on the Keurig product placement and charging for coverage issues highlighted here and here.  You will need to fast forward to the 8:18 mark for the story to start.

MTL Blog caught on CBC news

Shortly after their call the Keurig ad went from

THIS

mtl blog Keurig ad placement

to THIS (note the teeny tiny orange sponsored content label)

mtl blog sponsored ad change

MTL Blog uses the”they forgot” excuse very often.  Take a look at the headache a local blogger had to go through when they called out MTL Blog on stealing their content  in not just 1 spot but 2!

A greater issue with this sponsored content post is that it shows the tag in one post in the top 10 list but does not show the entire list as sponsored. The lists’ integrity (if you can call it that) is in question since it is not a real top anything since one of the posts is paid for. The entire post in the life section should be tagged as sponsored content. Instead it isn’t and that leads readers into starting to read this post and not know that a portion is an advertisement.

mtl blog life section

 

Hasthtag hijacking by MTL BLog staff

So after the dust settled from the #askmtlblog smack down, I ended up back on the link for a post I had just put up and saw that the hashtag had one last person give it a kick and add some tail end content for blatant visibility.

What are you doing this week end? #askmtlblog Here’s what! [insert bullshit mtl blog link] #montreal #MTLBlog

This is when you take a long breath and realize that no matter what happens, no matter what people come out and say to MTL Blog, they will always worm their way to get extra traffic and clicks by being deceptive.

Using a url shortener makes people more likely to click on the link and to be honest this is borderline spam. I should also note that MTL Blog did like this tweet and that Maya Dee, aka Marialys Diaz, is an MTL Blog employee, but spam is spam and MTL Blog will continue to be MTL Blog no matter what they say or who they blame for their inapptitude and laziness.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.50.45 PM (2)

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.51.08 PM (2)

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.51.19 PM (2)

Product Placement organic content

Thanks to the Fagstein article and the Twitter smackdown #askmtlblog, information about a paid ad campaign or product placement came to light.

 The product in question is the Keurig coffee maker and word has it that an online ad agency has been approaching certain sites to put this content (some allege Sid LEE was the ad agency behind this). It is true that Sid Lee has the Canadian deal for Keurig. However, as there are many moving parts in any kind of ad campaign, it could be that Sid Lee is responsible for one component while another company handles the online campaigns. 

mtl blog Keurig ad placement

 

There is confirmation of the ad campaign by another local website The Main. The Main also covers local events, and community organizations but they are legitimate in terms of not stealing images and content. I should note that I actually read their site and enjoy it.

We also got a confirmation with a screen grab of the email from the company from someone over at the CSU.

Regardless of who does what campaign (and I personally love the stuff Sid Lee does), this ad was slipped in as organic content. This blurs the line between paid advertising and a recent advertising trend called Native Advertising. For those who don’t know what native advertising is, it’s the subtle placement of sponsored content often done by the people who run the sites. Techcrunch has a great article on this that should be read for anyone interested.

The dangerous thing with this ad is that it’s placed without any notice of being a sponsored ad, kind of like product placement. This is the most deceptive form of advertising and although companies need to make money, you are really tricking viewers without giving them any chance to see this. Even the most media savvy viewer would never assume this is an advertisement. In fact, unless you have been approached by Keurig or are involved in the ad campaign, then there is no chance you will know this.

Now some will say that MTL Blog is not a news organization but they blur the lines. Their Facebook page clearly says newspaper and they have stated in the Canada Land article they wish to move in that direction.

mtl_blog

As of today the Newspaper label is still up even though in the Fagstein article “Lapointe said this description, and a similar one on their website, was an error and would be corrected.”

mtl blog newspaper

Now MTL Blog described itself as mixed media in the Canada Land article. This is dangerous because when you use the word media people assume you mean real grown up news. When people see news outlets, read newspapers, or listen to the radio, they apply a certain level of trust. MTL Blog is clearly not a media station, newspaper or radio. They are a PR company masquerading as a new company. Even in their company description with the Registre des entreprises they describe themselves as “Nous créons et vendons des campagnes d’affichage en ligne pour diverses clients.” and “Nous vendons des services de couverture d’événements pour diverses clients.”

mtl blog ad network

Revenu_Québec_-_État_de_renseignements_MTL Blog

In an age of social media and the erosion of traditional media and the gatekeepers, misinformation such as masquerading advertising as content is dangerous. Remember Ad agencies are scum and will do whatever is needed to sell you their product. This includes lying and tricking people by whatever means necessary.

 

 

 

MTL Blog harrassing local artists

So a recent petition has been posted on change.org for a band called Archery Guild. They have been getting harassed by the collection department of MTL Blog. This was over a show that MTL Blog went to cover and even though no contract was ever signed, they are sending this band a bill with interest.

Now we have discussed how MTL Blog is not a real news site since newspapers don’t charge for coverage of shows. Although their situation is a little more complicated since they re-post news-like stories in order to imply legitimacy.

We have seen that MTL Blog does charge for events as seen here and the following is a testimonial showcasing the frustration of a small local artist getting harassed and shaken down by a larger marketing / PR company aka (MTL Blog).

Please take the time to fill out the petition and spread the word. Twitter also happens to be a great way to get MTL Blog to do stuff since they only react when put on the spot as evidenced by past experiences with local bloggers.

mtl blog bill

An excerpt from the post states the following:

Although you’re posting as a blog, you’re not. You’re a PR service. In the criteria, you stated that payment must be made before the event. I didn’t pay before the event, and I didn’t sign anything saying that I would. This is why I’m wondering what gives you the leverage to add interest and tax. If there were a contract, it would be a different story. There was no contract, this was your responsibility.

 

MTL Blog Petition

 

MTL Blog and it’s Sponsored content

So recently Marois & Moi  did a write up on MTL Blog’s rate card and fee to cover events.  This was originally leaked on Fuck No Montreal back in April and we did a write up last week.

Now it’s clear that MTL Blog charges to cover events as they have an inquire within rate card with no prices on their site.

MTL BLOG RATE CARD

Here is the leaked email on Fuck No Montreal

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As well, they flat out admit it in an interview posted on Canadalandshow where they say “Lapointe sees MTLBlog as a ‘mixed’ media-brand. The young company has been exploring native advertising, with resulting stories stamped ‘sponsored content’ on the site.”

sponsored content in canadaland article

Although a comment on the Marois and Moi article caught our eye.

MTL_Blog_just_got_caught_in_a_legal_grey_zone…_marois_&_moi_ comment

The comment reads “I’m a bar owner and I occasionally use MTL Blog’s services to cover my events. They do a great job! I guess you have to be in this business to understand that finding a professional photographer that’ll shoot your event, edit the pictures, send them to you the morning after and share them on a popular cultural blog for under 150$ is a no brainer. Stop complaining and get a life.”

We did some digging and found that the name on this comment is tied to a local bar, Nacho Libre, and MTL Blog has covered it multiple times like they do with other bars. You can even see the MTL Blog water mark on the picture. Because MTL Blog would hate it for someone to steal their picture. You know, like they have to many local bloggers

Although something about these pics and the statement admitting they charge seemed off. It’s not marked as sponsored content. MTL Blog will mark some items as sponsored – it shows up on the home page and on the post in an orange highlight.


The posts done on Nacho Libre are not marked sponsored and it implies it is organic. This is a deceptive practice because readers will assume it is a non-paid advertisement. When people know they are being sold something they react differently. Now this is not an uncommon practice. Food bloggers get invited to openings and give reviews that are a form of advertising but some will state that it is a media event. Often if you state you have sponsored content, (which MTL Blog clearly has as seen in screenshots above) readers can make the conscious decision to filter paid content from organic content.

Although since MTL Blog’s Nacho Libre coverage of events is not labeled paid content, then people think this is an organic coverage and is news, albeit social news, and not to be confused with real grownup news with real reporters tackling real issues (but that’s another issue)

So for those reading events on MTL Blog do be aware that you may be marketed to even if it seems like normal party coverage. As well, we should note that Nacho Libre has another bar opening called Brutus and MTL Blog has been writing hype articles on upcoming bacon focused items. The posts are not labeled sponsored but you can tell that they are building up hype the same way that PR and marketing companies do, although when you leverage a seemingly neutral source for content that’s when you blur the line and are tricking people/lying to them.

brutus mtl blog

brutus mtl blog poutine advertisement

brutus mtl blog sushi advertisement

 

 

 

 

MTL Blog called out for misleading headlines by STM

Just recently, MTL Blog posted an article about the STM with the headline of “STM Prepares To Sell Metro Maps To Montrealers“. You can see it on the screen grab from their Facebook page which acts as a time capsule and shows the original un-edited text.

original mtl blog stm headline

Shortly after, the STM sent out a tweet to MTL Blog saying that the title is misleading and that they are exploring the idea and not preparing to sell.
mtl blog stm tweet

MTL Blog actually changed it, which is something they rarely do.  Normally mistakes get ignored/forgotten and they keep moving ahead, but this one was public enough so makes sense that they clean up the mess. It also highlights how deceptive and misleading headlines coupled with little or no research of a story they are writing leads to a situation where people who follow them on Facebook or Twitter will think this is real and will contact the STM and clog up their resources with unfounded requests.

There was a similar case a recently when MTL Blog did a post saying that metro maps were being given away and when people contacted the STM, they were not for the public.

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This also prompted the very rare MTL Blog edit/correction on their post, something you will rarely see no matter how many errors they make.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 12.16.16 AM (2)

We should note that if your “source” is a lone Reditt post you may want to dig a little bit deeper and actually call the STM before you make a statement to thousands of readers. The actual article by Andy Riga in the Gazette is clear when it uses words like “might”.  The article goes in depth with what might happen with the signs and does not blindly imply like the MTL Blog article which stripped away lots of the detail of the Gazette article and jammed together a few points.

This is also part of a greater issue where MTL Blog is treading the line between journalism media and an entertainment blog.  Real newspapers have editors and they check facts, MTL Blog does not. They are trying to take some info from legitimate articles, water them down but add no value to them. Covering a story is one thing if you have a reference or source but you should be adding value and opinion to it. MTL Blog just makes the story shorter and adds a nonsensical line of:  “If these prices seem fair and you really want some STM swag, let ‘em know. Hopefully we’ll all have hip and trendy STM signs in our respective apartments soon.”

I don’t know which is more frustrating, if MTL Blog becomes a news aggregator, a plagiarist or the fact that they jump on both sides of the lines and cause frustration with their misleading headlines.

 

Twitter shame, the only way to get MTL Blog to take down content they stole

So in one of our earliest posts we wrote about how MTL Blog stole the picture from La Pantry. In it we stated that a tweet and public shaming is the only way it seems to get MTL Blog to take down picture.

The pic in question was originally used in an article covering 7 places to have brunch in Montreal and then in a post on MTL Blog in which they cover 21 Montreal hangover restaurants.

le pantry original

Now ignore the fact that any article with the title of “Best Montreal Hangover Breakfast Restaurants” that lists 21 establishments is not really the ‘best of’ but rather simply a really long list of places that serve breakfast.

mtl blog stolen pic from le pantry

 

Now in our initial article we said that calling them out on Twitter was the only way to get this done and other bloggers like Will Travel for Food and Montreal Breakfast Review had success with this approach. La pantry had to go that route even though we wrote about this early on and MTL Blog is aware that we exist as evidenced by their take down attempt near the end of July.

THE TWEET

THE REPLY

Now MTL Blog took down the pic and replaced it with another one, although, they seemed to neglect doing their due diligence and going over all 20 plus spots to see if the pic is still there. Guess what? It’s there.  See below on how even after the tweet and take down of the initial pic the photo is still up. I took a screen grab with the date and time as well as well as better shot of the post itself and url.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I mean, there it is, number 19 of 21, the same photo that they took down as the cover is used in the exact same post.  The excuses of being young, inexperienced, and understaffed are simply poor excuses. It took me less than a minute to find this.

mtl blog still stealing

 

mtl blog le pantry number 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting events MTL Blog style

So a while ago MTL Blog started making a move towards “reporting” news.  Now, as those words get read, journalists everywhere shed a tear as what they love gets associated to an aggregating trashy local buzzfeed. You can see some of their attempts to make a shift have an image of a news site by reporting spotting of  famous people  people or writing about Montreal based issues like air BnB.

In both cases, they stole / borrowed heavily from legitimate news organizations. So one of the constant content streams from MTL Blog is covering parties. I mean other sites do it and quite well.
Nightlife has been doing it for ages as well as CultMTL for shows. So we weren’t too shocked when we saw that MTL Blog charges for covering certain events. Their rate card is below, although there are no listed prices.

MTL BLOG RATE CARD

 

Although someone pointed out  recently that a rate card with prices had slipped out a while ago. The tumblr page Fucknomontreal posted a copy a while ago and the rates range from $80 to $160.  Now this is an older rate card and odds are the rate has gone up.

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Some of the requirements are funny:

  1. The photo album needs to be shared via your official Facebook and Twitter channels the next day.
  2. We will not accept to cover any party/club events under 150 attendees.
  3. Cancellation fee: If the event is cancelled for any reason, there are less [sic] people than expected, and/or the photographer is sent home for any reason, the payment will still be due regardless. MTL Blog must be informed 24hrs in advance if the event is cancelled.

I mean I guess if you want that 18-24  Cegep and undergrad demographic, this is money well wasted. There’s also the added benefit of being associated with a site that steals its content.

Although implying that it does event coverage and having people think it’s media is wrong, they are charging people for publicity, which is a PR company, plain and simple.

The danger is the more and more content they push and move toward some kind of news outlet, people will think that they are real media and are covering news. Putting news in the hands of a PR company is a dangerous thing. They have already made posts that are mysogynist, as well as fake news to stir up interest and traffic. So imagine what happens when they wiggle their way and get people to think that they are actual news, or heaven forbid, legitimate.

Remember only you can help stop MTL Blog by getting people to Un-follow them on Facebook. You can use our handy “Help! My friends are douchebags guide” as well as our “Help! My friends accidentaly liked MTL Blog” guides to Un-Following MTL Blog.

 

 

 

MLT Blog doesn’t like it when you hurt their feelings

So recently on of our favourite parody sites SooMTL had their facebook page taken down. Although Facebook never says why, it’s likely related to the action by MTL Blog as we experienced when their complaint letter took down the server we used to be hosted on. You can read up on all the messy details here.

fb take down sooonotmlt

 


In fact the complaint letter we received was sent twice, the first time MTL Blog got the facts wrong (much like their articles) and confused us for Blog Mtl aka SooMTL. Here is an excerpt of their email (do note that I changed the url destination on their site name since no one should ever end up on that site).

“We have received multiple complaints from many users that think that this blog is our site (they call themselves Blog MTL). It is a misleading, ironic, sarcastic and slander website created by a group of individuals that want to ruin our reputation with local clients and users (in Montreal, Canada). Our company and website is MTL Blog, Inc (http://www.mtlblog.com) and we need this site removed as soon as possible. It is affecting the credibility of our business and thus affecting our ad revenue and potential client growth.”

letter part 2

We had a feeling they were going to go after SooMtl so we reached out to them and let them know. Now taking down something on facebook isn’t impossible although next on their target is their web site. It’s hosted on wordpress so that in theory should require a little more rigour and being a parody site is not a crime, in fact in this case their posts are more enjoyable than MTL Blogs. I’m a particular fan of the top 10 Mtl although I also love the Chad references.

It’s refreshing to see that MTL Blog now has a value for intellectual property. You know that thing they often disregard when they take content from other people without asking for it or referencing it. For examples, feel free to look here, here, here, here….  You get my drift.

The good news is that SooMTL has a new Facebook page,  twitter and instagram account.account. Bad news is that MTL Blog will likely keep trying to shut them down. Maybe someone out there should complain to their host and Facebook regarding stolen content. You can look them up on their whois record although they use cloudflare for DNS so it’s a little harder to find the server. But there a mechanism for copyright infringement cases, you just need to read up on it, good luck you will need it for that.

As a parting gift we just notice something and figured we should share it with you. We discovered that there are other domains registered to the same package. We saw some other sites registered to the same IP. The one called chucksbrand seemed like a lifestyle site based on MTL Blogs CEO’s name. Not sure if it’s a future project or an old project and the dailybabe.co is not up yet but we can assume that it will be 100% class.

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Remember only you can help stop MTL Blog by getting people to Un-follow them on Facebook. You can use our handy “Help! My friends are douchebags guide” as well as our “Help! My friends accidentaly liked MTL Blog” guides to Un-Following MTL Blog.

 

 

 

 

I’ve got a funny story to tell you

So a a few days ago, , the host where our web is/was hosted received a letter from MTL Blog and promptly forwarded it to us with 24-48 hours to comply. This is why www.stopmtlblog.com has a notice of complaint message and all the content was taken down. The good thing is we never paid or put any personal info for that host. The bad news is I know the person who was hosting me and they were not happy. So after some scouring of the web and a round or 2 of drinks later all is well in the world. We have this new domain name and hosting. Both of which are rather difficult to be taken down. Sadly it’s not free and in the future, I will write on why you should never host web sites in North America. Content is fully backed up but sadly this site is slower, oh well…

So you may be asking how did this happen? Who did this? Well MTL Blog’s CEO sent a complaint email to the host and they said the following:

 

email complaint screengrab

letter part 2

The irony is not lost on me, that a company that rips off the Intellectual property of newspapers, writers, bloggers, content producers, and photographers is crying foul and using the claim of trademark infringement.  I also find it hilarious that they just registered their trademark a few days ago as you can see here. Or take a look at the screen grab to see the dates where it says filed 2014-07-21.

trademark

 

As we sign off for the weekend, we would like to ask for your help. Changing hosts isn’t easy or cheap. If you want to, please send us some money, and because we keep everything anonymous, we will be accepting donations in bitcoins. I call it the Bitcoin legal and hosting fund. First we pay the hosting company bills, then we save up for lawyers. A more detailed explanation can be found here. So anything you send that can help defray the costs incurred in this move and possible lawyer fees are welcome. As well, please share via social media.

bitcoin donation QR Code

You can send your coins to this address above, or it you are new to bitcoins go to a local bitcoin ATM locations can be found here, bring your phone and display the above QR code when the machine asks you where to send money.

Here is the text of their email it’s in 2 parts the 1st one and a follow up. I have taken the liberty to make the links point to two of my favourite parody sites Blog Mtl and  MTL Blog.sexy  any links to MTL Blog are just wrong.

Here is the original text it was sent in 2 emails, They actually messed up and send the one they wanted to send re: Blog Mtl. It makes sense that since they get their stories wrong on their site, they would get their complaint wrong in an email.

Hi,
>
> This is my formal trademark infringement claim for stopmtlblog.com
>
> Physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf
> of the trademark owner.
> Charles Lapointe
> CEO
> MTL Blog
>
> Identification of the trademarked work claimed to have been infringed or a
> representative list if multiple works are involved.
> Domain name, name & content
>
> http://www.mtlblog.com/
>
> http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/vwTrdmrk.do?lang=eng&status=&fileNumber=1686087&extension=0&startingDocumentIndexOnPage=1
>
> Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing that
> should be removed or access to disabled and information reasonably
> sufficient to enable the online service provider to locate the material
> (usually a URL to the relevant page with description of items on that page
> claimed to be infringing).
>
> Domain name, name & content
> http://www.stopmtlblog.com/
>
> Information reasonably sufficient to allow the online service provider to
> contact the complaining party (address, phone number, e-mail address).
>
> *With guidance from my lawyer*
>
> We have received multiple complaints from many users that think that this
> blog is our site (they call themselves Blog MTL). It is a misleading,
> ironic, sarcastic and slander website created by a group of individuals
> that want to ruin our reputation with local clients and users (in Montreal,
> Canada).
>
> Our company and website is MTL Blog, Inc (http://www.mtlblog.com) and we
> need this site removed as soon as possible. It is affecting the credibility
> of our business and thus affecting our ad revenue and potential client
> growth.
>
> If you cannot take it down, we will need to file an injunction against
> BlueHost to know the identity of the creators to be able to file an
> injunction against them afterwards.
>
> Statement that the complaining party has “a good faith belief that use of
> the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the trademark
> owner, its agent or the law.”
>
> I have good faith to believe that the creator of this website does not
> have the power or authorization to wrongfully accuse of stealing content
> and using our trademark in their domain name.
>
> Statement that the information in the notice is accurate, and under
> penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on
> behalf of the trademark owner.
>
> As the CEO and applicant of the trademark application, I have
> authorization to act on behalf of my organization to file this trademark
> infringement.
>
>
>
> Please let me know if you have any questions and if I can assist you with
> anything else going forward in our request.
>
> Thank you,
>
>

“It has come to our attention that we have a group of local individuals who
wish to destroy our reputation and brand through public slandering and
display of false information about our brand. Stopmtlblog.com not only
infringes on our trademark but is using its name to spread out defamation
about our product and company.

Our company and website is MTL Blog, Inc (http://www.mtlblog.com) and we
need this site removed as soon as possible. It is affecting the credibility
of our business and thus affecting our ad revenue and potential client
growth.

If you cannot take it down, we will need to file an injunction against
BlueHost to know the identity of the creators to be able to file an
injunction against them afterwards.

Thanks again and feel free to reach out to me for any additional questions.

 

—-That was part 1—-

—This is the follow up—

Sorry, I would like to make modifications to this claim:

Information reasonably sufficient to allow the online service provider to
contact the complaining party (address, phone number, e-mail address).

*With guidance from my lawyer*

It has come to our attention that we have a group of local individuals who
wish to destroy our reputation and brand through public slandering and
display of false information about our brand. Stopmtlblog.com not only
infringes on our trademark but is using its name to spread out defamation
about our product and company.

Our company and website is MTL Blog, Inc (http://www.mtlblog.com) and we
need this site removed as soon as possible. It is affecting the credibility
of our business and thus affecting our ad revenue and potential client
growth.

If you cannot take it down, we will need to file an injunction against
BlueHost to know the identity of the creators to be able to file an
injunction against them afterwards.