The Consumerist, the New Censorist?

Meg Marco by Meg Marco

UPDATE: The discarted user account is no longer available on Consumerist. Maybe it was deleted by them? Guess we shouldn’t have written this post.

The Consumerist is a well-known website that prides itself on highlighting the persistent, shameless gaffes of modern consumerism – and the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals and freebies. However, despite all of these great things Consumerist stands for, apparently some people who work for Consumerist don’t have a problem with being a hypocrite, or silencing their critics by censoring them in their online comments.

For instance, Meg Marco, Consumerist’s Co-executive editor, recently posted a brief summary of an incident involving a Burlington, Vermont, street photographer who was banned from a mall for an entire year, even though what he was doing was completely legal. Meg writes:

A coffee shop in Vermont has issued an one-year universal trespass order that bans a local amateur photographer from 67 establishments on the Church Street Marketplace because he would not comply with repeated requests to stop photographing the patrons and employees of a coffee shop. Here’s his Flickr stream.

This one should be fun. On one side you have a guy who is perfectly within his rights to hang out and photograph people in a public place. On the other hand you have a coffee shop and 66 other merchants who are sick of their customers and employees being creeped out by a guy taking pictures.

She continued by selectively pulling the following from the much larger and original article in Seven Days:

About a month later, during a February snowstorm, Scott shot some pictures of a woman smoking a cigarette outside Uncommon Grounds on Church Street. Scott claims he was about 50 feet away when the woman, an employee of the coffeehouse, noticed his camera and asked him not to take her picture. Scott claims he backed off. But the woman also asked Scott to delete the pictures he’d already taken of her. He refused. The following Monday, March 1, a Burlington police officer again showed up at Scott’s workplace, and this time issued him a one-year universal trespass order that bans him from 67 establishments on the Church Street Marketplace. If Scott enters any of them, he could be arrested.“If I had been drunk and gone into Uncommon Grounds and created a loud scene, I can understand why they wouldn’t want me in there,” Scott says. “But I wasn’t even in the store. I wasn’t even in front of the store.”

Manager Mara Bethel tells a different story.

“We’ve had a problem with him a number of times before — taking pictures of women, specifically, on the sneaky side of things — without asking their permission,” she says. “A number of customers have come in and said, ‘There’s a guy out there taking pictures and it’s really creeping us out.’”

Bethel confirms that Scott didn’t enter the coffeehouse to take pictures, nor does she describe his pictures as “lewd.” Nevertheless, she says, Scott’s persistence and demeanor were “unsettling” to her and other employees.

“For the young women around here, it felt really uncomfortable, someone kind of lurking about, and then quickly taking their picture and turning away,” Bethel says. Moreover, when someone asked Scott what he was doing, she claims he became defensive and argumentative.

And finally she ended in her own words with:

It seems that both parties are within their rights. The photographer can stand outside creeping people out and the coffee shop and other merchants can ban him from coming inside for whatever reason they like…

After reading what Meg wrote, it was very clear to me that I did not agree with Meg or her obvious stance on the matter. Nor did I agree with the way she chose to write her post (especially her selective editing and her repeated use of the word creepy), which was clearly biased with a very obvious subtext that screamed Dan Scott was a perv for taking pictures of people in public without asking for their permission. Which is rather an ironic position for Meg to take, but we’ll get back to that a little later. (However, stay tuned, there is a twist to Meg’s story.)

So of course I decided to write a comment on the Dan Scott post that was very critical of Meg Marco. However, it’s no longer there along with other comments that were critical of her post.

And unfortunately, I didn’t save my original comment posted to Meg Marco’s article because  I thought I didn’t need to since was I posting it to Consumerist, which I mistakenly thought, is about truth, fairness and impartiality. But apparently that is not the case with Meg Marco—she likes to censor her critics.

But hopefully someone at Consumerist other than Meg Marco will read this and we’ll be able to get my original comment as well as the other comments that were not approved, or deleted after the fact, back online so everybody can read them and formulate an opinion for themselves, rather than having it shaped by Meg Marco and her personal crusade against Dan Scott.

I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the following, and I’m sure my original comment to Meg was much more eloquent, but here’s the gist of what I posted:

Meg Marco-

This is probably the briefest and shittiest summary you could have written regarding Dan Scott’s situation. It is clearly biased and also very apparent that you wrote this in support of Uncommon Grounds and with a personal agenda. Rather than asking everybody else what they thought of the situation, why didn’t you just have the brass to come out and say that you don’t agree with what Dan Scott is doing, even though taking pictures of people in public without their permission is perfectly legal. Reading something like this, where there is a clear agenda, just makes me question the legitimacy of all Consumerists writers.

Fail.

What is so ironic though about Meg’s position (this is where I get back to what I touched upon earlier), as well as extremely hypocritical of her, is the fact that it appears Meg also enjoys taking photos of strangers without asking for their permission. Which is exactly what Dan Scott was doing. Hmm.

Check out Meg’s flickr stream here, along with her Strangers set here, which both consist of photos of people whom she didn’t ask for their permission before she snapped away.

What’s really creepy, though, is the fact that Meg has a photo of a little girl’s ass! And she didn’t even ask the girl for permission.

That’s just plain creepy.

Creepy photo by Meg Marco

And there’s even more photos of children in her Strangers set.

Double creepy.

I’m curious to know how Meg would feel if she was banned from a public place for an entire year for taking this photo because a few people didn’t agree with what she was doing even though it is a perfectly legal thing to do, nor is she required to justify her actions to anyone.

Meg Marco, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE.

To contact Meg Marco, email her at marco@consumerist.com.

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25 Responses to “The Consumerist, the New Censorist?”


  1. 1 Keith March 17, 2010 at 12:57 am

    It is OK for the chicks to take the pics. If you got a bone you’re on your own.

  2. 2 Karen March 17, 2010 at 5:14 am

    big whoop.

  3. 3 julian March 17, 2010 at 9:12 am

    You have a fair point. The article she wrote about the photographer seems misguided when you see the images she posted on her own flickr website. Lots of shots of strangers taken without permission. Maybe it’s ok if she does it because she is a woman and therefore not creepy!?

  4. 4 babydiscarted March 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    You should never delete comments, unless they are truly disgusting or racist or something. Deleting them makes you look worse than if you just published them. (That is, if anyone knows about it…)

  5. 5 akagoldfish March 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    “Maybe it’s ok if she does it because she is a woman and therefore not creepy”

    Maybe not creepy, but sexist, certainly.

    I left a comment on her photo with my thoughts on the matter: “So other people are creepy when they take pictures of adults in public places without the subject’s permission, but when you do it’s not creepy… for some reason.

    Interesting how that works.”

  6. 6 Pontificus April 21, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I’m not trying to defend consumerist (or Marco), but I think it’s in order to point out that consumerist is an advocacy site.

    The implication that goes with an advocacy site is that it attracts and promotes somewhat secular and limited thinking. One could call this the preacher’s trap.

    With this condition, as far as the individual is concerned, things are not just black and white, but “I’m always right”, with others categorized as black & white depending on where they fit with the advocate. With that mindset it’s easy to make mistakes that in hindsight one might wish to change.

    Unfortunately another problem preachers have is the difficulty to admit when they made a mistake. There could be many reasons for it, but a major part is the mistaken belief that this might invalidate other things they have stated in the past. (This misconception is particularly tragic, since ability to admit mistakes, and doing so readily when appropriate, usually increases the credibility of the person doing so.)

    Assuming that consumerist indeed deleted posts (I never saw them in the first place, so I can’t say for sure for myself), that would be in the category of uncool behavior. But it can be corrected easily enough with a “sorry, we overreacted”.

    And they really should learn not to use attributes like “creepy” unless they are called for.

    I presume consumerist or Marco never apologized. Too bad, since it reflects a lot more on them than on you.

  7. 7 Bill August 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Why? Cheap Sniveler
    Thu Aug 5th, 2010 10:17 AM MDT

    Okay, this morning an article in my feed was about one of my “expert” subjects. I viewed the article, and decided to comment, with helpful advice. I registered, and logged in, and proceeded to post comments. I responded to a number of comments, and still, after 2 hours, had not seen any of my comments show up. I tried to post once more to the expanding list of comments, and lo, I was unceremoniously LOGGED OFF. When I tried to log back on, I COULD NOT. I reset my password, and tried to log in. STILL no login! I repeated this process twice, and I can’t log in, Nor have my relevent, useful, helpful and respectful comments been published.

    Why? What have I done wrong? I spent a lot of time (I researched facts, too!) and now… is all that lost?

    Please respond. My username is XXXXXXX, Thanks.

    PS, Don’t make me report to to the CONSUMERIST… oh, yea, thats you, soorrry. LOL

    • 8 Cheap Sniveler October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Thats me, Cheap Sniveler, and I was trying to post pertinent info about getting TV free with an antenna. Roz decided I was a spammer.

      She let me in, eventually – and I was banned 6-10 months later.

  8. 9 discarted August 5, 2010 at 9:54 am

    That’s how Consumerist does things. It’s refreshing (and that’s sarcasm) to hear about another person being censored by Consumerist.

    Consumerist’s motto is DO AS I SAY, BUT NOT AS I DO.

  9. 10 nacoran September 2, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Are you sure your post didn’t just get buried? Between the hidden replies and multiple pages of comments it’s nearly impossible to find anything! I think they do have a policy of removing comments with profanity though.

  10. 11 seattlesc September 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I can’t agree more with this post due to my recent experience with The Consumerist.

    They recently ran an article about my mother’s business due to a complaint from an “informant” of theirs accusing my mother of mismanaging funds. The “writer”, Christopher Walters, had no problems with writing a biased, accusatory article that had no factual foundation. His only attempt at research was to Google the company and blast it for not having a complete website.

    I’m sorry that my mother is the sole proprietor of the company and handles the finances of 190+ clients and doesn’t have the luxury of finishing her website. He made no attempt to contact her either.

    EXCELLENT journalism right there.

    At least they took the article down. It still amazes me that Meg Marco, Executive Editor (looks like someone got a promotion), would let such a one-sided, non-researched article go to press. I guess the more content they have the higher their PR.

    Money > Truth at The Consumerist.

    Sorry for the rant, but I thought I’d leave my two-cents about how credible this company is.

    • 12 discarted September 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

      Welcome to the misguided and biased world of Consumerist. My personal opinion is that the site is a big joke and I do not believe a word that is written by any of their writers. You should do some research regarding that writer. I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of contradictory personality traits like we did.

  11. 13 Robert January 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

    How refreshing to find an article that pretty much sums up my opinion about the consumerist. I visited the site after being referred there by a friend. I created an account and made several postings. One of them happened to question their credibility as the author had done no homework and basically blew a non issue way out of proportion. Lo and behold several hours later I experience the fantastic “unable to login” error.

    So I made another account. I was extra super nice this time… and even my contradictions were well phrased, with legitimate arguments. Less than 8 hours later.. Blammo.. gone faster than a cheesecake at a Weight Watchers convention.

    The most ironic part is that during the course of all of this they had the nerve to post about nominating them for the “bloggies” award. Even more funny is they removed the post completely after critical comments made it past their in house censor. They promptly put it back up several hours later after complaints from several posters… and had the nerve to pretend like it was never gone!!! They then pretended that they took it down because the nomination period was past, even though anyone with a room temperature I.Q. could read a calendar and tell them that.

    The author of this article does more homework/fact checking in this one article than the entire “staff” of the consumerist does in a year. And unlike the consumerist… if someone does disagree, I’m pretty sure the comments will be left for a reasonable debate.

    Long and short, the censors at “the consumerist” aren’t journalist and should not be treated as such. If anything they epitomize the 5 year old on the playground with their fingers in their ears going, “la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you… I’m right and you’re wrong…”

  12. 14 Robert January 27, 2011 at 7:00 am

    http://custhelp.consumerreports.org/cgi-bin/consumerreports.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

    Have a beef with the consumerist? Post a comment here. They’re both owned by the same parent company. And since the “fine” folks at the communist, er consumerist don’t give two squirts of piss maybe these guys will.

  13. 15 Brent March 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I, too, was banned recently by Consumerist for posting comments critical of the website.

    Consumerist posted a story asking readers to go to a certain website and vote for Consumerist.com to win some award. The request backfired, however, as readers instead began posting comments critical of Consumerist’s declining editorial standards. Ideally, a Consumerist editor would have responded to the overwhelming number of critical comments. Instead, Consumerist simply removed the story and all the comments.

    When I noticed that the story had been removed, I posted my objection as a comment under the two most recent stories. I was hoping that when other readers realized what had happened, they would also speak out against the censorship until Consumerist would be compelled to repost the story and comments–which is exactly what happened. They reposted the story, but then, to my surprise, they banned me.

    Consumerist is a terrible fraud, presenting itself as a place for open criticism of corporations and customer bullying. Through punitive censorship, Consumerist perpetuates these very abuses–silencing its critics instead of improving itself.

    • 16 discarted March 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Great comment. Thanks for the info and your comment was forwarded to Consumerist. Yes, I do have direct connection with one of their editors because of this post.

  14. 17 Thomas Mattola May 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

    The replies editor at Consumerist is a post nazi. I posted over a year and never got one reply up. When I asked she said I didn’t “pass the audition”. Screw them. I’ll stay at Fark.

  15. 18 Dana February 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Hmmm… this posting is interesting: https://boywithgrenade.org/tag/photographer-banned/

    Having witnessed Meg Marco inject poison into the public domain via The Consumerist, it is clear she has quite the appetite for ruining someone’s day (/week/month/year/livelihood) and amusing herself by posing as an actual journalist. If this censorship is true, it goes against the grain of what is right and responsible in honoring our country’s constitution and its First Amendment.

    Being familiar with Meghann Marco and her Consumerist postings, it seems Meg Marco is better suited for tabloid press, than a website like Consumerist, which is owned by Consumer Reports, and is allegedly above the Smarm Pool. I do beg to differ.

    ( from Wikepedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabloid_journalism …)

    “Tabloid journalism tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology, gossip columns about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, and junk food news. Such journalism is commonly associated with tabloid sized newspapers like “The National Enquirer”, “Globe” or “The Daily Mail” and the former “News of the World.” The terms “tabloids”, “supermarket tabloids”, “gutter press”, and “rag”, refer to the journalistic approach of such newspapers rather than their size.”

    (…end Wikipedia excerpt)

    Meghann Marco, the Consumerist ( consumerist.com ), Consumer Reports ( http://www.consumer.com ) and its president MR. James A. Guest should be ashamed of their pretend-journalism. James Guest: dump Meg Marco, before she puts a (bigger) hole in the boat. I used to think of Consumer Reports as a noble organisation, in an ignoble world. This example, and others, serve to further convince me that Meg Marco, and her Consumerist drivel, are every bit as journalistically sound and respectable as the Enquirer.

  16. 19 phoenix wondering February 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Funny, Meg Marco and http://www.Consumerist.com are happy to direct readers to contact information for a long list of organizations by promoting a link to http://www.elliot.org – but looking there for Consumer Reports’ leadership yields a lot of nothing… Systemic information cloaking?

    http://consumerist.com/2007/07/9-airlines-ceo-email-addresses-and-other-useful-complaint-resolution-contact-info.html

    you’re right Dana: Meg Marco, James A. Guest, and the rest should be ashamed of their double-standards.

  17. 20 phoenix wondering February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    found more interessting comments on Meg Marco and http://www.consumerist.com

    http://www.thefakegeek.com/2009/04/consumerist-overreacts-once-again-with-a-hp-customer-complaint/comment-page-1/

  18. 21 ono May 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Meg Marco is to Journalism, as Water is to Boarding.
    I know.

  19. 22 Dana May 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I guess then, that by default, the above, comment by Ono applies to the Consumerist.

    And since many diseases run in the family, perhaps Consumer Reports is not as quite as pure as they wish to claim.

    As a continuing experiment in journalistic quality, I think I’m going again to

    http://custhelp.consumerreports.org/app/ask

    to re-re-request a response.Nothing yet. Three months and counting… Hello??

  20. 23 Question Pomposity August 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Meg Marco and the Consumerist are just plain wrong on so many levels.

    If I were Consumer Reports, I would be embarrassed to own that Web property, — But then again, a supporter of the right to allow advertising prostituting minors is OK with them too.

    Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist has either defended the free speech rights of Craigslist, or failed to come up with a coherent answer when directly questioned on the all-too-gruesome realities of the topic. (see his unbelievably arrogant and insensitive reaction to questions, in the clip)

    Craig sits on Consumer Reports Board of Directors. No doubt adding the wisdom of his outstanding Moral Compass to the gene pool of Consumer Reports in their business decisions.

    Long live CUSTOMER input in consumer issues… Viva La Web. Consumer Reports may not be long for this world, Given their many foibles, methinks the Teflon(TM) could wear thin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBE9X0-fKLk check out Craig in this piece. He is a disgusting human being.

    Consumerist and Craig Newmark are the circle Consumer Reports rolls with. (Rolls in, is more like it.)

    Meg Marco is a fine example of Trickle-Down theory. James A. Guest (CR Pres.), you are not such a Boy Scout after all…?

    Hurl…

  21. 24 Marco hit and run victim August 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

    God bless Meg Marco and The Consumerist. And James Guest and Consumer Reports,
    And Slobodan Milosevic, and Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Kazinski, and Dylan Klebold. They are all beautiful people in their way. (This is strictly conjecture, not based on fact, taking my cue from Meg Marco and her impeccable journalistic and ethical standards, and Consumer Reports support of their um, style.).

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