Sunday, August 19, 2012

Slings and Arrows

“CT alleges that anonymity was granted because the publication ‘found evidence’ that its ‘sources could face retaliation’ for speaking to the magazine about the issue. The magazine did not substantiate ‘evidence’ of possible retaliation, and there has not been evidence of retaliation towards those speaking against Jang and groups allegedly tied to him in cases from East Asia.” - The Christian Post

When I started investigating David Jang’s movement, and when it became clear that the larger Christian community needed to be made aware of the things former members were telling me, I knew I was going to be exposed to some slings and arrows. There’s plenty of evidence that David Jang’s community has not been subtle in its attempts to undermine the credibility of those to whom they take a dislike.

Consequently, when I became aware several weeks ago that the Christian Post, a newspaper closely connected to David Jang, was preparing an article on me, I wasn’t exactly surprised. I did raise my eyebrows a little when one of their emails to Christianity Today said that the “story is going to be about Ken's involvement with an international network of pro-North Korean ,anti-Christian and leftist groups that are attacking Christian organizations.” But I had a pretty good idea that any story would focus less on my (non-existent) ties to North Korea, and more on my (actual) connections with Zango, an adware company where I was the CTO and co-founder.

There’s no denying that Zango was a controversial company, and even I can’t defend everything about it. I had plenty of my own disagreements with the other executives about aspects of its business, and and as a tech guy, limited influence over corporate strategy. But there was also a great deal about Zango that I admired, and that’s what kept me there for the better part of a decade. It had a great culture. It treated its employees well. And we worked hard to fix problems and to create an honest business. If you want more of my perspective on what was good about Zango, what wasn’t, and some of the internal battles I fought, you can just search for “Zango” on my blog. You can decide for yourself to what extent my involvement with Zango affects my credibility – or perhaps more importantly, the credibility of Ted Olsen, Christianity Today’s managing editor of news and online journalism, the lead author and fact-checker for the story.

But even though I had been expecting an attack, and was for the most part prepared to submit to it gracefully, I was still a little surprised to read in this morning’s Christian Post that I was all but a purveyor of child pornography.

I suppose I need to say a few obvious things: that Zango never sponsored or allowed child pornography on its network, that it dealt resolutely and immediately with any violations of its terms of service, and that had this not been true, there’s no way I would have allowed myself to be associated with it. Any allegation or implication otherwise is simply and entirely false.

It’s regrettable that I have to say these things – but I guess I do, at this point. I’m basically in the no-win situation described by Proverbs 26:4-5: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

Yes, on two occasions, Zango did have to deal with folks using its software in connection with child pornography. It was exactly the same problem that any large network of user-generated content faces, whether that be Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Zango’s response on both occasions was immediate, direct and resolute, and I have absolutely no reason to wish their response was anything other than what it was.

I hope it’s clear to neutral observers that this doesn’t really have much to do with whether David Jang’s community encouraged the belief that he was the Second Coming Christ. As with the accusations the Christian Post raised in their first article, even if everything they allege or imply is true (and it’s not), would it change a word of Christianity Today’s story?

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