In yet another example of the media completely misunderstanding
technology, Fox News has defined changing a nickname on IRC as
It all happened in the middle of a live CNN chat with President Clinton.
CNN was using a version of Internet Relay Chat which happened to
crash every now and then when the user load got to around 1500. During
one of those instances, a mischief maker managed to sign back on
with the username of "President_Clinton" because the real Clinton hadn't
gotten back on yet. The operators of the channel didn't bother to check
if the user was authentic and automatically gave him a voice. That allowed
the user to speak as the president and express opinions such as the
desire for more porn on the net.
Anyone who has ever used IRC would recognize the stealing of a nick as
an occupational hazard. To hear Fox News tell it, this should be
considered a crime. "The incident Monday was the latest in a recent wave
of cyber-vandalism that has already targeted CNN.com once before, as well
as major commercial sites such as eBay, Amazon.com, and Yahoo!"
CNN has wisely referred to the culprit as a "prankster" and insisted
to Fox News that they were not hacked into at all and that the person
merely changed their username, as any user can do at any time. However,
no mention of the incident can be found anywhere on the CNN site, including
the transcript of the online chat.
Fox News is demonstrating the witchhunt mentality that has demonized hackers
worldwide. Over the years, we've been concerned over the misuse of the
word "hacker" by the media to mean anyone who commits a crime using a
computer. With stories like this, it's now become apparent that the
media is also misusing the word "journalist."