and online news outlets alike are not immune from publishing inaccuracies
-- or even out-and-out falsehoods -- about hackers, as we discover this
week in two case studies.
Steve Silberman of Wired News, and Adam Penenberg of Forbes Digital
Tool, two respected cyberjournalists, both fell for the story of
"Christian Valor," a.k.a. "Se7en," the would-be hacker Robin Hood who lied
for years about trashing the hard drives of online pedophiles. Silberman
exposed Se7en's fraud (and the hacker admitted his mistake) Feb. 8, while
Penenberg posted an apology and explanation on various hacker mailing
But Silberman's story fell flat in the online media world, especially
among the newspapers and Web sites that had written so gushingly -- and
erroneously -- about Se7en during the past two years. None has issued a
retraction as of posting time.
Meanwhile, several respected online news sites jumped down the throat
of weekly U.K. newspaper Sunday Business, which broke a shocking story
Feb. 28 about hackers altering the course of a British defense satellite
and asking for money to not do it again.
The Web sites quickly denounced the story as wrong, but in the
meantime, some published errors of their own. And the evidence they cited
was not exactly exhaustive.
Both cases spotlight the difficulty of covering the mysterious world of
hackers -- with its pseudonyms, wild claims and heavy mythical baggage.
They both illuminate the very different ways that publications deal with
their own mistakes. And they both show the decisive new role being played
by people who would have never been called "journalists" three years ago.
... to Transatlantic
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