The feuding vampires and werewolves in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series have enjoyed a long-standing truce, but the battle between unabashed fans of the latest novel, “Breaking Dawn,” and those who were disappointed or angered over the eagerly awaited conclusion is just heating up.
On Friday, that battle went technological, as the most prominent “Twilight” fan site on the Web, the Twilight Lexicon blog, was hacked by a malicious computer criminal, shutting down the site for more than 48 hours. It was an opening salvo aimed directly at the series’ most vociferous and zealous supporters, who were targeted because of their allegiance, site moderator Nicole Bright told MTV News.
“The Internet community has become very polarized — either you liked this book or you hated this book. We took a stance that if you liked the book, we’re going to be a place for discussion about that,” Bright said. “We know that it was a disgruntled fan of the series who hacked our system. It took place as a direct result of the Lexicon’s backing of Stephenie Meyer and her work.”
By Bright’s own admission, the Lexicon blog is not particularly welcoming of those readers who hated the book, particularly when that hate spills over from appropriated review sections and message boards into other areas of the site. In recent weeks, moderators have removed many of these especially hateful comments, in effect limiting the free exchange of ideas and thoughts on the blog.
That’s their right, Bright insisted, claiming the Lexicon is not the place for divisive contrarianism.
“If you were posting on every thread on our forums, ’Stephenie Meyer is a terrible writer. Everything about it is horrible,’ then we just aren’t the place for you,” Bright said. “As her official fan site, this needs to be a positive place where we can gather together and discuss what we like and have positive conversation. Hate spam makes it very difficult for someone to enjoy the site.”
It was this aggressive moderation that the hackers used as their war cry, ironically stating that they were championing free speech by taking down the much-trafficked community. After breaching the security wall of the site, the hackers went about deleting forums and news blog items.
Although the Lexicon wasn’t able to go live again until Sunday night, very little material was irrevocably lost, Bright said, citing the board’s failsafe copy, which goes back two days. In the end, that means only 48 hours of material is now gone forever.
Also gone forever is the possibility of finding out who was ultimately behind the espionage, according to Bright, indicating that the perpetrators are free and clear of any repercussions as far as she knows. Interestingly, it’s not because their hate wasn’t loud and obnoxious that they will get off, Bright said, but because there were so many haters being loud and obnoxious.
“If you hit the site with enough traffic, its security measures begin to fall. The message board had been spammed, and it allowed a hole in the security net that somebody was able to get [through] and delete forums,” Bright confessed. “Because of the spamming — there were so many IP addresses — there is no shortage of suspects, and no way to know which one exactly did the attack.”
The Lexicon’s approach, then, is to be proactive rather than punitive, Bright said, telling MTV News that they are taking measures so such an action doesn’t happen again.
“The hole that enabled them to get into the blog has been sealed. As far as contacting law enforcement, we have been in contact with our server company, and there are definite measures being taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Bright asserted.
One thing that the Lexicon won’t change, however: Bright insisted that the Twilight Lexicon blog will forever be a place for those who truly love Stephenie Meyer’s work.
“It’s a very difficult time for the fandom, in that you liked it or you really hated it. Everyone feels like they need to get their say, but that means that the fans that really liked it need to have their site too. The blog is that place, for these ladies and a few men who have been worshipping this book for years,” Bright said. “For those who were disappointed, go be passionate about something else.”
According to Bright, no money was lost by the Lexicon despite being down for the weekend, and no personal e-mail addresses were accessed, despite a message from the hackers that went out to the entire Lexicon mailing list.
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