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Spate of fake headlines hits the Web; hackers responsible

August 03, 2012|By Ryan Faughnder
  • A hacker broke into the New York Yankees' official Facebook account and posted a false message about shortstop Derek Jeter.
A hacker broke into the New York Yankees' official Facebook account… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)

Trust me -- this article was not written by hackers.

Over the last week or so, there have been several instances of mischievous cyber criminals hacking news sources and publishing fake articles and messages.

News service Reuters' website was hacked Friday and bogus articles posted about Syria’s unrest. One such article was a fabricated interview with Riad Asaad, the head of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group.

"Our blogging platform was compromised and fabricated blog posts were falsely attributed to several Reuters journalists," Reuters said in a statement.

Hackers often disrupt popular websites and trusted sources of information in order to call attention to political causes, in the case of groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec, or just to get a laugh. 

On Thursday, a message sent from the New York Yankees' official Facebook account told fans that star player Derek Jeter would be out for the season -- for a sex-change operation.

It turned out that the page had been hacked. It was just one of many joke messages that a hacker sent out after getting access to the Facebook accounts of the Yankees, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and others.

Then there was an an op-ed purportedly written by New York Times writer Bill Keller, seemingly writing in support of the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. It was published last weekend on a page made to look like the New York Times’ website.

“THERE IS A FAKE OP-ED GOING AROUND UNDER MY NAME, ABOUT WIKILEAKS,” tweeted Keller, who has been critical of the organization. “EMPHASIS ON ‘FAKE.’ AS IN, NOT MINE.”

The phony column fooled many readers and journalists, some of whom tweeted the article. WikiLeaks took credit for the fake column. 

“Yes. We admit it,” the group tweeted. “WikiLeaks (Assange & co) and our great supporters [were] behind the successful” hoax.

The old adage still applies: Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. 

ALSO: 

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