Feeds

Facebook's phony Bhutto pranks media

Journalism 2.0

The next step in data security

Lazy hacks have been suckered by the miracle of Web 2.0, again. This time it's not Wikipedia, but a phoney Facebook profile created for 19-year old Bilawal Lawalib that found its way onto the journalists' clipboards - and out back onto the Web.

Following the assassination of his mother, Benazir Bhutto, 19-year old Oxford student Bilawal Zardari was named joint leader of the Pakistan People's Party. Hacks rushed for information about the lad, and with a few clicks, found what they were looking for.

"Thanks to the internet age it is possible to get a glimpse of the life the new joint leader of Benazir Bhutto's PPP leads as a history fresher at Christ Church college, with all the newly forged friendships and nights out university inductions inevitably bring," marvelled Rachel Williams in The Grauniad.

But at least she found the right man.

Another Facebook account, one created by a prankster, has so far been quoted by dozens of news outlets including the Telegraph, Agence France Presse, and TV news networks. The NYT fingers this prankster as the culprit, although why this claim deserves credence is a good question.

Last week I suggested that creating fictional identities - complete with fictional biographical information - might be a useful way to counter both commercial and state-run data harvesting operations. The problem with Facebook is that it doesn't permit users to create fictional personas. But as an indication of the confusion this could cause - Facebook has gone and disabled both Bilawals just to be sure.

In October, dozens of British obituary writers were caught cutting and pasting from Wikipedia after the death of TV composer Ronnie Hazlehurst. They included the odd "fact" that Hazlehurst had come out of a 20-year retirement to write a teen band hit five years ago. But that "fact" only ever lived on Wikipedia - and took just Google and a few seconds to disprove.

Newspaper editors and TV current affairs executives are currently agonizing over why their audiences are disappearing. Don't incidents like this answer the question? You don't need to pay an intermediary to find dodgy information for you, when you can find dodgy information for yourself much faster. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.