A Year Ago: MTV made to look ridiculous by fake hacker

First published: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 17:31:17 GMT
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

TV channel's blinkered view of hackers enabled programme hoax

America's premier music television channel, MTV has been duped by a hoaxer in its much-maligned "True Life: I'm a Hacker" programme. After the show was screened in the US, the main character in the show, Shamrock, issued a statement revealing that he made the whole thing up.

Shamrock, who last week gave an in-depth interview with MTV explaining the motivation behind his hacking exploits, on Monday said the show was total nonsense and was designed to illustrate how gullible MTV was.

In the statement, published on the Hacking News Network Shamrock explained it was MTV's cynical approach to hacking that prompted his scam. "We waited for months to see if they would be realistic and after it was obvious that they wouldn't, we figured the only option would be to discredit them with as much fiction as possible."

Shamrock adds that he and fellow hoaxers never expected MTV to swallow the absurdities they made up and argued the hoax illustrated the shallow nature of the mainstream media. "We had no intention of making hackers look bad. All I can do is reiterate to you just how fake and hollow what you see on television is. After this experience I wonder where if any truth lies in what we are told to watch. This is the obvious issue the hacker community needs to address."

Practising British hacker Harlequin, famed for defacing international Websites, told ZDNet News the media is often guilty of misunderstanding and misrepresenting hackers. He said: "Hacking and computer technology are very complex areas, both technically and socially. Naivety can easily be exploited as well as accuracy."

A representative from the Independent Television Commission (ITC), the British television industry's independent watchdog, said that it considers this kind of blunder inexcusable. "This sort of thing is not difficult to detect if you've done your work properly. We would expect program makers to do their work and to make things that are factually accurate."

Despite several attempts, ZDNet was unable to reach an MTV spokesperson.

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