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A social media editor  for Thompson Reuters was indicted on conspiracy charges Thursday (March 14), for allegedly conspiring to hack to L.A. Times. Mathew Keys is accused of conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous, to break into the newspaper’s system to change a story, in December 2010.

Keys, who has more than 23,000 Twitter followers, learned of the news of his indictment via the social networking site. “I am fine,” he wrote yesterday evening. “I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I’m going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual.”

The 26-year-old is the deputy social media editor at Reuters, and identified himself as a former employee of the Tribune Company, which owns the Times. Keys previously worked for Tribune-owned television company, KTXL Fox 40  in Sacramento. He worked as a web producer, but was fired in October of 2010, two months later he is believed to have given members of Anonymous, log-in credentials for a Tribune Company server. “Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website,” according to the Justice Department. “According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log into the Tribune Company, server, and ultimately that hacker made changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.”

Originally named, “Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package,” the headline was changed to “Pressure Builds in the House to Elect CHIPPY 1337.”

Once the hacker was locked out of the system, Keys attempted to get him back in, but responded “Nice” when learning that changes had been made to the Los Angeles Times story.

The New Jersey resident was charged with one count of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer , one count of transmitting said information, and a count of attempted transmission.

In a statement, Reuters said it was “aware of the charges,” and “committed to obeying the rules and regulations in every jurisdiction in which is operates.” The company has suspended Keys.

If convicted, Keys faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, plus a $250,000 fine.


Photo: Linkedin