Friday, October 06, 2006

ABC mistakenly releases ID in page probe

Yahoo! News
ABC mistakenly releases ID in page probe

ABC News' fleeting, inadvertent publishing of a computer screen name enabled a blogger to track down and make public the supposed identity of a former congressional page who traded salacious messages with former Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record).

In breaking the story of the now-burgeoning scandal, the network last Friday posted on its Web site a series of instant message exchanges between Foley and the teen-ager. The name of the page was not included.

But in one exchange the network inadvertently left the victim's screen name on. It was quickly discovered and removed, replaced by a version with the name redacted.

However, ABC said Thursday that a blogger was able to retrieve the deleted file. The blogger, known as "Wild Bill' from the "Passionate America" site, went on a computer detective mission he describes in detail on his site to discover the name.

[Editor's note: Click here to see the blog entry that describes how Wild Bill, with help, tracked down the information.

"To be clear, no one visiting our Web site would have simply stumbled on the old version," ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said. "We thank the blogger and (Matt) Drudge for bringing this to our attention."

ABC has taken additional steps to make sure no one can access the deleted messages, he said.