India Insight

“Good that the jerk died”: When Web links go bad

The Indian Express published a story, filed from Lucknow, about the son of a local BJP bigwig who died after a security guard at a hospital shot him. The gunfight began after another guard told him and his flunkies to move his car from an illegal parking spot. The situation escalated, the goons beat the first guard, somebody drew his gun and that was that.

The Express told a straight story, but when the Web link (or “URL”) circulated on Twitter, someone made a change that made it look like the Express was expressing an opinion.

Here is the link: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/acha-hua-margaya-saala/947200/

Look at the second half of it:

“Acha hua mar gaya saala.”

More or less: “It’s good that the jerk died.”

That’s a comment best reserved for the opinion pages, and it’s not a particularly sophisticated or kind comment. My initial questions when I saw this on Thursday were: is there any way that someone outside the Express could have changed the URL? Or is this something that happened inside the newsroom?

My colleague Saqib Ahmed answered: yes, you can change a link without breaking it. Indian Express URLs, he said, contain three parts: the main website, the first part of the individual ID of a story, and then the second part. Look at this example:

The Indian Express chugs in again

It was a victory long overdue and the reunion was perhaps destined to happen in no other tournament but the Chennai Open.

As India’s star tennis pair — Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes — clinched their fifth Chennai Open doubles crown in 2011, there was more than one reason to celebrate.

File photo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes celebrating victory after their match against Zimbabwes Black and Ullyett at the Athens 2004 Olympic. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/FilesThe victory came nine long years after their last triumph at Chennai. Their last ATP title win together was at the 2004 Toronto Masters.

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