We've been speaking recently over several meetings with an ex Daily Mail back-office technical person who has given us some interesting insights as to operations under the editor, Paul Dacre.
Among other things (many of which we have to run past the lawyers first!) he/she states, quite categorically, that a substantial number of the commentors on Daily Mail stories, especially those with no avatar or ID, are system responses, Mail staffers or paid contractors. On some days, it's over 50%, even 75%.
The Project - suitably named Abyss - was set up in 2015 and has run since. Estimated costs are £22,000 a year for 2017/18, which is lost in their 'Media/Marketing' Budget. It is particularly used when comments are either minimal or critical of the story, to generate false support.
More to come from this person, we think.
All details have been passed to regulators IPSO but we expect no action as key IPSO staff were placed in position by the recently retired Chairman of the PCC's Editors' Code of Practice Committee.
Will be interesting to note if this Project continues under Dacre's replacement this month, Geordie Grieg.
|Our source confirmed this example, where three commenters|
were Daily Mail staffers, and the fourth a system response.