Matthew Keys, the Twitter power user who made a name for himself as the former deputy social media editor at Reuters, has been found guilty of three criminal counts in federal court. He faces 25 years in prison for facilitating the defacement of the LA Times’ website.
Keys was indicted in 2013 after being accused of providing Anonymous (remember them?) with login credentials for the Tribune Company, and encouraging them to “fuck shit up.” Per a Justice Department press release: (emphasis added)
According to the indictment, Keys identified himself on an Internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and provided members of Anonymous with a login and password to the Tribune Company server. After providing log-in credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website. According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log into the Tribune Company server, and ultimately that hacker made changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.
Soon, after, an LATimes.com article was defaced to read CHIPPY 1337:
Not exactly diabolical criminality, but prosecutors argued that the same login credentials would’ve allowed Keys to alter the websites of the Times, FOX television affiliates, and any other Tribune media property. They also claimed (ludicrously) that it cost $5,000 to correct the defacement, which anyone who’s ever worked with a website CMS knows is ridiculous. It would’ve taken a few minutes and clicks, at most, to revert the article. As Motherboard’s Sarah Jeong points out, this number was likely pulled out of the prosecution’s ass, but not thin air:
According to the defense, the article was changed back in an hour. But prosecutors claim that the Tribune spent over $5,000 to fix the defacement. The amount is no coincidence—$5,000 is the jurisdictional requirement for them make the charges stick. But placing a $5,000 price tag on a weird and kind of embarrassing article being up on a website is, maybe, controversial.
Jeong, who has covered the trial from the start, says the jury found Keys guilty on all three counts:
Sentencing is scheduled for January 20, 2016.— A Facebook Psyduck (@sarahjeong) October 7, 2015
UPDATE: Keys has issued a response to the verdict:
That was bullshit.— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) October 7, 2015
Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to Fox.com instead of a FOX TV affiliate