The new publisher and CEO of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Thomson (left) and Les Hinton, came from atop the Times of London, which hired a shady contractor that has just been outed for surreptitiously spamming social media sites. The contractor, "search engine optimization" firm Sitelynx, failed to disclose its relationship with the Times as it flooded sites like del.icio.us, Metafilter, Yahoo Answers and Netscape Propeller with links to Times content. Submitting links is fine if you disclose your affiliation — the Journal does so when sending links to the blog Slashdot — but without disclosure you're undermining the basic functionality of these sites, which is to find the content readers (not publishers) find most interesting. The Journal's reputation would surely suffer if News Corp. imported these typical search optimization tactics to the U.S., but why would it, a company exec only called them "a fundamental building block" of Times Online in London. [Waxy.org]