A supposed technical glitch that replaced the usual content of the Fox News website with nonsense headlines and outdated articles, gave rise to a host of conspiracy theories, and suspicions of a break-in by ‘hacktivists’ Anonymous.
On the afternoon of November 5th – Guy Fawkes Day, and the date of annual worldwide demonstrations by Anonymous supporters – the usual front page of the ‘Fair and Balanced’ website was suddenly changed to one with a headline that just read "Weeeeeeeeeeee".
Underneath the header, was a standfirst that proclaimed “STUFF YO”. Above it was an item that read “Programming Alert: World Zombie Day to Bring out the Living Dead.’
It also included some news articles, mostly from earlier this year. The dateline next to the Fox logo read May 16, 2013.
Within several minutes the site was restored to normal.
But, the screen captures quickly spread through the internet, and dozens of news outlets speculated as to the reasons for the appearance of irregular content.
Online portal Gawker proclaimed ‘The Editors of FoxNews.com Are Either Drunk or Hacked’ with hundreds of users wondering about whether the cause was Anonymous.
Exactly two years ago, the group promised to bring down the Fox News website, which it accused of “an orchestrated attempt to misinform the general public… by propagating the left-right false-dichotomy."
It did not appear to succeed then, and may not have been responsible this time either.
“During routine website maintenance, a homepage prototype was accidentally moved to the actual site. As with any mistake in testing, engineers noticed the error and quickly brought the site back to its normal function,” Fox News chief digital officer Jeff Misenti said in a statement following the glitch.
The bizarre content appears to have been a mixture of old stories and 'placeholders' – meaningless text used by web designers to test out a website interface. While the glitch is harmless in itself, seeing the 'gears and levers' behind a media outlet seems to frequently shock and fascinate the audience and cast doubt on the infallibility of the news source in question.