Cover up or honest mistake? Scottish MP links to dodgy website

October 13th, 2009 - 4:35 pm ICT by BNO News  

By Michael van Poppel
Tom Harris links to dodgy website LONDON (THAINDIAN NEWS) — Quite a few followers of Scottish Member of Parliament (MP) Tom Harris were surprise to find themselves on a Chinese porn website when they clicked on one of his links on Twitter.

“I’m not really lovin’ it, no…,” a message from Harris read on his Twitter account, followed by a link to a website that showed pornographic images of Chinese women and offered DVDs for sale. But was it an embarrassing mistake of links getting mixed up, or was an URL shortening website to blame?

“Er, any reason why you’re linking to a Japanese porn sit[e], Tom? Is this Labour policy?”, Simon G. wrote in response to the tweet from the politician. Others referred to the expenses scandal which forced numerous members of parliament to resign after dodgy expense claims. “Hope this wasn’t on expenses, Tom!”, wrote user “psbook”, a British political blog.

But Harris insists it was nothing more than a honest mistake, and blames the website Tiny.cc for it. “I DON’T, as a rule, tend to link to Chinese porn sites,” Harris wrote on his personal blog. “There, I’ve said it. I just don’t want there to be any confusion on the issue. I’m not prude or anything. If you feel the need to go looking for that kind of thing, be my guest. But don’t expect me to help. Understand?”

Harris continues on to explain that he had no access to TweetDeck at the time of his tweet, which automatically shortens links to websites when you post to Twitter. Instead, Harris says, he went to Tiny.cc and pasted the link to his latest blog article about McDonald’s. Mysteriously, Tiny.cc allegedly gave him a short link which sends people to a pornographic website.

“This has happened occasionally before when using the tiny.cc URL shortener; I’ve pasted the URL I wanted to shorten, but when clicking on the new, short version to check it works, find myself in unknown territory (never a Chinese porn site until now, it has to be said.)”

The Labour MP offered an apology to anyone who clicked on the link. “So, apologies to everyone who clicked on the link expecting to be treated to fascinating and insightful words of wisdom from Yours Truly and who instead, tragically found themselves trying frantically to translate picture captions in Mandarin (I’m pretty sure they were along the lines of: ‘I’ve never written to your site before but I just had to tell you about my recent experience. I’m 22 years old and people say I’m very attractive, etc…’).”

Mistake or not, none of his followers appeared to be really upset over the link. “I just want to say that I’ve never heard of you before today, being American and all. But I’m a big fan of yours now. Well done,” said Ryan Waters from Concord, North Carolina.

“Ah, the old clipboard blunder! Did your wife buy the explanation blaming tiny.cc?,” another follower of Harris asked the politician, who will likely double-check his shortened URLs in the future. “We all love porn. Thanks for the link. You are a brave MP,” Ken K. from Toronto wrote.

Tom Harris is the Labour Member of Parliament for Glasgow South, and is the former UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department of Transport.

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