“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Investigative reporting conducted by William Sherman.
Several months ago, The Obiter instigated an undercover journalistic investigation into satirical news institution The Obiter. The information in this investigation was obtained and evaluated based on the written record, The Obiter leadership group meeting notes, personal notes, memos, chronologies, letters, Powerpoint slides, emails, reports, UQLS cables, calendars, transcripts, diaries, Facebook events, Messenger, and undercover journalists. The information in this report was supplied by more than 100 people familiar with the internal publishing mechanisms of The Obiter. Interviews in the report were conducted on “background,” meaning the information could be used but the sources would not be identified by name. Many sources were interviewed four or more times.
Joe Dwyer did not respond to my request for an interview.
In November 2017, Joseph Alexander Dwyer was appointed the 2nd Editor-In-Chief of The Obiter. His nomination stood unchallenged at the Annual General Meeting of The University of Queensland Law Society Incorporated.
The Obiter had built a mediocre online following, having transitioned from the print to the digital format in 2015. Some of their articles received upward of 40 Likes, a feat held in high regard by the publication’s shareholders.
As the online presence of the publication grew, it became clear to The Obiter leadership that the social media platform Facebook would be the most effective mode by which to distribute their content. As the website’s dependence on Facebook grew, the value of the platform’s “like” function rapidly became the measure of a given article’s success.
According to a technician employed by Facebook, who wished to remain anonymous for the purposes of this interview, the Facebook like button “is an effective way for a business or page to build awareness and recognition by way of direct feedback as to a user’s response to the content.” Once The Obiter became aware of their power, Likes became the currency of the publication.
Joe Dwyer assumed office in January 2018 and immediately tasked himself with an overriding objective: develop strategies to increase the number of Likes per article. Mr Dwyer immediately surrounded himself with a subcommittee of contributors, all of whom he instilled with the same dogged determination to attract Likes.
The notes of the first meeting of this leadership group in early February were supplied to me by a source close to the subcommittee who wished to remain anonymous. The minutes provide an insight into the initial emphasis on the capital of Likes:
The team got to work.
Articles were released almost immediately, with limited success. The occasional comment and Wow reacts were not enough to satisfy the demands of the increasingly irritable Editor-In-Chief. A contributing journalist, whose identity we must protect for her own safety, performed extensive undercover work for this investigation, a task that was admittedly logistically achievable due to this report being conducted by the very publication it seeks to uncover.
Nevertheless, this journalist wore a recording device under her shirt when posing as contributor to The Obiter. Which she actually is. The conversation she captured took place on the 15th of February in the UQLS office.
At this point, the recording audio became obscured as Mr Dwyer threw what our source described as 'a laptop' across the office.
The tape, recorded on a bright yellow device, cut out at this point. However, Mr Dwyer went on to explain to our source his plan for like acquisition.
The UQLS Inc. Law Ball is a night for law students to remember. The reason I mention this is simple: nights to remember are never cheap. Unless it was the night you fell below the poverty line. You’d probably remember that.
The 2018 Socials Committee, in coordination with the Tier-3 of the Society, had decided that the theme for the law ball would be Space. The plan, documents obtained through a source who at this point has flagged that he wishes to remain anonymous have revealed, was to purchase Pluto and hang it from the roof of the venue as decoration. The plan was ambitious; no student society in Queensland had ever successfully transported an entire dwarf planet into their ball. The initiative would cost the UQLS Inc. a considerable amount of money. Money that needed to come from somewhere; the Facebook marketing budget of The Obiter turned out to be that somewhere.
UQLS Treasurer Matthew Singer met with Mr Dwyer at 3:47am on the 18th of February. A source close to Mr Singer, who was adamant that she would prefer to remain anonymous for the purposes of this report, relayed the general nature of the conversation.
The budget reconfiguration left Mr Dwyer and his leadership group in a desperate situation. Without paying for Facebook marketing, the articles had significantly diminished prospects of gaining traction. It was then that Mr Dwyer first contacted a Brisbane-based data firm with a questionable reputation that left clients with a whole lot of questions: Story Bridge Analytica.
Story Bridge Analytica was located in the Brisbane CBD and specialised in online data analysis, including Facebook Like attraction. The firm had been engaged by social media tycoons such as Vivian Models and the Queensland Police Service. Mr Dwyer met with the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Gabby Berriton on the 19th of February, the day after his meeting with Mr Singer. The meeting, according to a source present whose actual birth name is Anonymous, was a success. Ms Berriton explained that she faced a similar Like deficit at the outset of her modelling career. However, there was a method that she explained in detail to Mr Dwyer: Admin Laundering.
Admin Laundering is the process of creating multiple Facebook pages, all of which the launderer is the sole admin. This allows the launderer to switch between accounts while using Facebook. This switching allows the Admin to like content from all of their pages, adding tens and tens of Likes to a post. Berriton said that it was this tactic that allowed her to secure a contract with City Beach.
Mr Dwyer was sold.
The Editor-In-Chief relayed the strategy to his leadership group. Reportedly, some members expressed concern about the tactics.
“This is tampering. Cheating, plain and simple,” one member of the subcommittee was said to tell Mr Dwyer. The eventual consensus of the leadership group was that, although Admin Laundering was against the rules and spirit of online satire, this was a way in which to gain an advantage going into March. Mr Dwyer reportedly directed Michael Fielding and Rachel Moss, the most junior members of the group, to contribute in carrying out the scheme.
The plan’s implementation was made evident by the sudden uptick in Likes on articles. Soon enough, articles demonstrating the publication’s brand of fairly obvious logical leaps were garnering traction that no industry experts could comprehend.
“These are Like numbers of Russian proportions,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opined, before asking to remain anonymous. Shit.
By the 12th of March, The Obiter’s average LPA (Likes Per Article) had, according to ten economists interviewed for this report, increased by 91.8%.
On the 14th of March, a freelance photographer captured Mr Dwyer in the Walter Harrison Law Library.
The photographer, under the guise of asking for a Mac charger, managed to capture Mr Dwyer’s screen.
Using state of the art technology, the content of Mr Dwyer’s screen can be revealed.
Here was the clearest evidence yet that The Obiter was engaging in Admin Laundering.
On the morning of the 15th of March, I opened my Inbox to a number of screenshots, featured below.
The conclusion that Mr Dwyer and his team were tampering with the Likes on their own articles was now incontrovertible.
After extensive interviews and Like analysis, this investigation can exclusively confirm that the following pages are fraudulent weapons at the disposal of the leadership group:
· Save Network Video Grange
· Osama may be dead BUT Megamind is Still OUT There
· Niseko Memes for Brisbane’s Teens
· Brexit 2
· Get Scott Cam at my mate’s 21st
· UQ Law Revue
· The Trollympics
No member of The Obiter leadership group has responded to the allegations, despite footage showing a walkie-talkie conversation between Lachlan Glaves and Henry Bretz at the Level 3 void in the Law Library that experts believe involved discussion of a cover up.
Past Editors of The Obiter expressed shock and disappointment when the conspiracy came to light.
“WHAT THE …… HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream,” former Editor Katie Wheatley tweeted.
Will Baxter, a 2016 Editor, was similarly dismayed. “This is disgraceful. The whole Obiter leadership is implicated. We are the laughingstock of the satire world.”
Former Editor Sam Leigh volunteered to return as Editor as a way to “steady the ship,” if necessary.
The fallout will no doubt continue following the publication of this report. The embattled leadership group will no doubt face repercussions and severe disciplinary action. The Obiter will no doubt face a tarnished reputation and a backlash from their fans, whose hopes and dreams they were entrusted with and thoroughly abused.
The Obiter will be accused of concocting their downfall by their few remaining defenders. The question as to what informed the decision to publish an expose about our own scandal can be answered easily with another question: Who watches the night watchman?
The night watchman watches the night watchman.
So go set a watchman, The Obiter. Because there’s nothing to like about this.