Fact Check

4-Year-Old Boy Accused of Hacking FBI Database

After a series of news stories about politically motivated e-mail hacks emerged in 2016, an old fake news story about a four-year-old boy hacking the FBI's database was recirculated.

Published Aug. 12, 2016

A 4-year-old boy was accused of hacking the FBI's databases.

On 11 August 2014, the fake news web site World News Daily Report published a fabricated article reporting that a four-year-old boy had been arrested for deliberately hacking the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s databases to obtain information about his mother's new love interest:

A 4-year old kid from the Californian metropolis, who must remain anonymous, was arrested this morning for breaking into the internal network of the FBI on three different occasions, allegedly to gather information about his mother’s new boyfriend. Bypassing all firewalls and security systems in a matter of minutes, the young boy would have been able to access the databases of the FBI, the CIA and of various police departments to verify the identity and official records of his new stepfather.

Bill L. Lewis, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, announced that the accused’s young age would certainly have to be taken into account, but that “considering the gravity of the crimes he committed” and the “consequences that his actions could have on the credibility the federal authorities”, the charges had to be serious.

It is still unclear where the boy learned to use a computer, as he lives alone with his mother, who is an uneducated hairdresser possessing very little computer skills. In fact, there wasn’t any computer in the house until last Christmas, when the mother’s ex-boyfriend gave her a laptop. FBI agents are still analyzing all the data that they can muster on the PC and by interrogating the boy, to try to understand how he gathered the necessary knowledge over such a short period of time.

This article lay largely unnoticed until a string of high-profile, politically motivated hacking incidents were reported in mid-2016. Although the outlandish tale of the toddler hacker was able to slip in alongside those legitimate news reports, it was nothing more than a clickbait fabrication from a fake news web site.

World News Daily Report regularly publishes outlandish falsehoods alongside unrelated photographs, boosting ad revenue via social media shares. Its disclaimer clearly states that WNDR's articles are completely false:

WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website — even those based on real people — are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

Prior World News Daily Report hoaxes included claims an infant was born with stigmata in the Philippines, a lottery winner died attempting to gold-plate his genitals, a 14-year-old virgin was impregnated by a flu shot, a slaughterhouse employee murdered dozens of coworkers unnoticed for twenty years, a donor heart recipient received an organ from an executed serial killer and subsequently went on a murder rampage, a man's genitals were bitten off during the attempted "rape" of a pit bull, a meth-using babysitter ate a small child while high, a Smithsonian employee was caught "raping" a mummy, an overweight man sued Golden Corral after he was booted for staying too long, rat meat was sold as chicken wings across the United States immediately before the 2016 Super Bowl, a woman broke a world record after giving birth to 14 children by 14 different men, a Nazi sub surfaced in the Great Lakes, a mother sued a tampon company for taking her daughter's virginity, a 101-year-old Italian woman gave birth to a healthy baby using fertility treatments, CIA agents were caught smuggling cocaine across the Mexican border, a National Geographic journalist was eaten alive by a giant sunfish, Edward Snowden confirmed that Osama bin Laden is alive and well under CIA protection, and a fisherman caught a giant shark in the Great Lakes.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.