Hacker Who Built A Fake News Pro-Trump Empire Has Unmasked Himself
Hacker X, the man responsible for a pro-Trump fake news empire, has revealed himself.
Over the course of two years, Hacker X sat at the helm of a ‘monster’ which relentlessly spread baseless stories, conspiracy theories and propaganda in aid of the former president’s rhetoric, all with the aim of securing a victory in the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.
Armed with a team of writers and editors paid specifically to undermine facts by conjuring content, he believes the bulk of interference in the election came from misinformation in the US, not Russia, which ultimately played ‘such a minor role that they weren’t even a blip on the radar’.
Speaking exclusively to Ars Technica, the hacker revealed his identity: Robert Willis, who dubs himself an ‘ethical hacker’. The publication insists it’s fact-checked his claims, only conceding to use a fake name, Koala Media, for his former company.
In 2015, he was on the hunt for a job in IT. ‘I showed up at the location, which was a large corporate building. I was given directions to wait downstairs until I was collected. The secretiveness was intriguing. It may have turned some people off, but I love an adventure,’ he recalled.
‘I had not been given any information on the job other than that they were very excited, because to find someone like me was very rare – I had tons of random, overlapping, highly technical skills from years of wearing multiple hats at smaller private companies.’
The interviewers eventually revealed the name of the company and its wider intentions. ‘I wasn’t scared but excited at how crazy this was already turning out [to be]. I listened. I was told that there were big plans for the office I was sitting in and that they had already hired the initial writers and editor for the new operation,’ he said.
‘They told me that they were against big companies and big government because they are basically the same thing. They said they had readers on the right and the left. They said they were about freedom,’ Willis continued, before they told him, ‘If you work for us, you can help stop Hillary Clinton.’
‘I hated the establishment, Republicans, and Democrats, and Hillary was the target because she was as establishment as it got and was the only candidate that was all but guaranteed to be running on the main ticket in the future 2016 cycle.
‘If I were to choose a lesser evil at the time, it would have, without a doubt, been the Republican Party, since I had moved to the new city due to the Democrats literally destroying my previous home state. It felt like good revenge.’
Of course, he took the job. Quite quickly, he realised how easy it was to get engagement on any anti-Clinton content. ‘Pieces that ran… claimed, among other things, that Clinton had plans to criminalise gun owners, to kill the free press, to forcefully drug conservatives, to vaccinate people against their wills, to euthanise some adults, and to ban the US flag,’ he said.
Willis left after two years, and Koala Media has since been exorcised from Facebook. Upon seeing the damage of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic – including his own father being manipulated – he wishes to make amends. ‘COVID has shown me the deadly side of fake news and anti-vaccination people,’ he said.
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