A message appeared on PBS' main website Sunday night, declaring that famed murdered rapper Tupac Shakur is shockingly "alive and well" in New Zealand, 15 years after he died.
Spreading like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, the false rumor contested the fact that Tupac died in a hail of gunfire in Las Vegas in 1996. The PBS Web story looks entirely legitimate, adding fuel to the fire.
PBS NewsHour online engagement staffer Teresa Gorman spent most of Sunday night replying to folks on Twitter, explaining the false report and confirming that PBS had been hacked. The LulzSec hacker group has claimed responsibility, angered by PBS' treatment of secret-spiller organization Wikileaks in a recent Frontline documentary called WikiSecrets.
"Dudes. Of course Tupac is alive. Didn't you see that official @PBS article? Why would they lie to their 750,000+ followers?" the group Tweeted early Monday. "We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed. We decided to sail our Lulz Boat over to the PBS servers for further… perusing," the statement said.
Shortly after midnight, the organization began posting links to the fake Tupac story, which said proof that the rapper was alive was found in a dead New Zealand man's diary, as well as dozens of passwords to PBS databases, user logins, a map of the organization's network and other information.
"Anyway, say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they're sailing next time," the group wrote.
According to Secure Business Intelligence, LulzSec has attacked several high-profile organizations in the last month.
The fake story reads: