Will Miley Cyrus be Time magazine’s Person of the Year? If a team of savvy hackers get their way, she’ll twerk and tongue her way to the top of a reader poll.
Time chooses a “Person of the Year” annually, and this year, they’re running an online poll to see who readers want. Until recently, Edward Snowden was in the lead, but Miley has usurped his place. She holds 29.8 percent of the vote, with a substantial lead over Snowden and controversial Indian politician Narenda Modi. but even though Cyrus is imploring fans on Twitter to vote, her social media encouragement isn’t the reason she’s in the lead. After talking with Daily Dot reporter Fernando Alfonso III about potential voting loopholes, two programmers called Gains and Marek decided to develop a work-around to catapult Cyrus past her competitors.
Gains and Marek found a way to rig the reader poll within an hour by creating a software script that circumvented authentification on Twitter and Facebook to allow automated votes. This meant they could vote on behalf of people surreptitiously (Gains and Marek could probably get hired by some corrupt politicians if they wanted). This is especially sad for Time because the magazine tried to boost security this year after previous hacking incidents, including a security failure in 2012 where hackers ran a program that gave despotic North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the top spot. But apparently the precautions were no match for Gains and Marek.
The programmer duo chose Miley over more controversial picks like the accused Boston bombers, Dhozkhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, noting that Cyrus is a more lighthearted choice. Their efforts helped Cyrus rise from fifteenth place to first, where she currently sits.
Of course, Time doesn’t let its readers decide who gets called the Person of the Year — the editors decide. So even if the programmers tilt the poll even more overwhelmingly in Cyrus’ favor by the time voting closes on December 6, it won’t impact who is finally chosen. Perhaps it will impact how Time prioritizes its digital security.