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Hackers target PBS over WikiLeaks documentary

A group of hackers have hijacked PBS's news website, taking it over to post a fake news story in retaliation for a recent 'Frontline' investigative doc the network aired on WikiLeaks.
May 31, 2011

A group of hackers have hijacked PBS’s news website, taking it over to post a fake news story in retaliation for a recent ‘Frontline’ investigative doc the network aired on WikiLeaks.

A group calling itself ‘LulzSec’ and ‘The Lulz Boat’ claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter, which saw the posting of a fake news story claiming that late rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand. The story has since been taken down.

PBS said today that three of its websites – Frontline, NewsHour and PBS – were still under attack by hackers, adding that it was attempting to resume normal service.

A PBS spokeswoman said that the hackers had also stolen login information for two internal PBS sites – one that media use to access the PBS press room and an internal communications website for stations – adding that all affected parties were being notified.

On Twitter, the hackers claimed the attack was retribution for the network’s recently aired doc WikiSecrets, which covered Julian Assange, whistleblowers’ site WikiLeaks and the controversy surrounding Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who has been charged with unlawfully transmitting sensitive diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

In a statement, Frontline executive producer David Fanning said the attack was an “irresponsible” attempt to chill independent journalism.

“We see it as a disappointing and irresponsible act,” he said. “We have been very open to publishing criticism of the film, and the film itself included multiple points of view. Rather than engaging in that spirit, this is an attempt to chill independent journalism.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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