Stop using 'hacking' as a blanket term for all kinds of computer-security trickery

Fast Company
NYU journalism professor Adam Penenberg writes that the News of the World phone hacking scandal is a sign that the word "hacking" has become a catch-all term for all sorts of computer-related trickery. In many cases, News of the World journalists and investigators simply got phone companies to provide people's voice mail codes or spoofed victims' caller IDs. If that type of deception is hacking, he writes, then "the panhandler on the subway hacked you when his sob story convinced you to fork over a buck." He calls for greater precision in describing what these so-called hackers do. "Whether you're a journalist, blogger, or commenter, you should move beyond glib terminology to words that are more accurate and descriptive." || Why it matters: Using the term "hacking" with respect to News Corp. implies that it's a story about tech, when it's really about ethical and legal behavior. || Related: A defense of the other kind of hack -- sensationalistic British journalists.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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