Some nasty pranksters, likely associated with Web forum 4Chan, have hacked into Apple gossip mainstay MacRumors' live-blog coverage of Tuesday's Macworld keynote. Hosted on a separate domain, MacRumorsLive.com, the site was plagued by offensive messages about Apple CEO Steve Jobs' health and general inanity (i.e. "SEX ME") before finally succumbing to "technical difficulties."
It remains uncertain whether the pranksters actually brought down the site, or whether MacRumors voluntarily took it down to keep things under control.
It's pretty clear, however, that this was the work of 4Chan, which has gained both respect and notoriety (depending on who you ask) over the past year for its persistent protests against the controversial Scientology sect in the form of an offshoot group called "Anonymous."
Over on 4Chan's labyrinthine forums, a couple of threads (warning: contains explicit language) hint at members' collusion to take down MacRumors Live, and the hacked live blog was peppered with declarations of "4CHAN FTW" (that's "for the win," for those who stepped in late).
This year's Macworld Expo has gained particular attention because Apple has announced that it's the last in which it will have a presence. Additionally, iconic CEO Steve Jobs bowed out of the keynote presentation. Marketing executive Phil Schiller took his place.
The 4Chan skulduggery appears to have first been noticed by Twitter users and independent blogs like Topherchris.com, which took the screenshot above.
One Twitter user pointed to rumors on social-news site Digg that 4Chan members had been circulating MacRumors passwords on Monday night.
It's a silly prank, yes. But it could have a big impact on MacRumors: this is likely the site's biggest day of the year, and the event could have an impact on both ad revenues and server costs.
UPDATE: It's not totally clear who's actually responsible for this attack. We've been getting a handful of e-mails indicating that it may have been a non-4chan group called Myg0t that was using the 4chan forums to organize, and another e-mail claimed credit on behalf of another forum community, Ebaumsworld. Indeed, screenshots show that one of the hacker messages read, "We are from Ebaumsworld. We are hackers on steroids."
Honestly? The world may never know.
This post was updated at 2:13 p.m. PT.