Was the published spoiler a glitch or a hack?

By Lori Reese
Updated July 19, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Hacker or slacker? At around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, the heavily trafficked ”Survivor” home page made an early announcement about its most tightly kept weekly secret: the contestant who was kicked off the island in the yet to be broadcast episode. The spoiler: Greg Buis, the ”lovably eccentric” Ivy League graduate, had his nature phone service permanently disconnected after 24 days on Pulau Tiga.

For about 40 minutes, CBS’ site offered Greg’s bio, video clips of his ”final words,” a summary of the episode, photos of the decisive moment at the Tribal Council, and more — in other words, all of the updates that usually appear on Thursdays, AFTER the episode has aired. Then, suddenly, by 3:30 p.m., all of this information disappeared and was replaced by a blank, untitled browser window.

Was it an in-house glitch that caused CBS to give away its most closely guarded secret, or did a hacker somehow access the site and publish the highly sought information a day early? The network declined to comment, except to say that ”there have been incidents of hacking in the past.” Our solution: exile the culprit to Pulau Tiga.