Some days, you've just gotta love the Internet.
Today's bit of Web-fueled insanity revolves around a supposedly top-secret Google device called the "Chromebook Pixel." A video showing the device appeared online this afternoon and quickly turned into a hot topic of discussion. Before you get too excited, though, you may want to take a closer look.
The "Chromebook Pixel" video -- which has been taken down from YouTube but is still available in other places -- was apparently created by a company called Slinky.Me. The clip is made to look like an official Google commercial for the product; Slinky.Me claims its servers were hacked and that's how the video got published.
A believable enough story, right? Maybe not. Let's break it down:
Reason #1 for skepticism
The CEO of Slinky.Me posted a semi-coherent public message to Google+ this afternoon announcing the alleged hack. He went ahead and +-mentioned Google founder Sergey Brin in the message, along with François Beaufort -- a Chrome developer who initially shared the video on his own G+ account.
Is that how the CEO of a company responsible for making an ad about a top-secret Google product -- one that was just stolen and posted online without authorization -- would handle such an occurrence?
Reason #2 for skepticism
Over on Twitter, Mr. Koch sent out the same message about the supposed hack -- then, a couple hours later, sent out a link to a story on AndroidAuthority.com that still had the video actively embedded (via the site's own non-YouTube-based hosting).
Is that something the CEO of a company would do after his ad about a top-secret Google product was stolen and he was trying to get the situation under control?
Reason #3 for skepticism
Right now, the home page of Slinky.Me's website features an odd message about the alleged hack. If you dig around, though, you can find other information on the site.
The Slinky.Me "About" page, for instance -- written in broken English -- says the company's mission is to "Build World's Largest Visual Guide." An "Ads" page, meanwhile, pitches the company's services for "an effective promotion for small, large business without damage to the user" -- again in broken English.
(Both pages look the same in Google's cache, incidentally, so it's unlikely they were modified as part of any "hack" that took place today. The "About" page was last modified on January 26, 2013, according to Google, while the "Ads" page was last edited on December 5 of 2012.)
Does this seem like the site of a professional marketing firm that Google would hire?
Reason #4 for skepticism
Trying to find Slinky.Me's past work is an interesting adventure. Most of the YouTube videos the company has uploaded have since been deleted, but you can find some scattered clips on other video services.
Slinky.Me has made several Google-related videos that appear to imitate official ads, like one that focuses on the Chrome browser (complete with broken English and punctuational errors) and another that focuses on Chromebooks (featuring an on-screen graphic that misspells the word "SUCCESS").
The actual Google Chromebook ads, it's worth noting, were produced by Google Creative Lab in conjunction with Greenpoint Pictures.
Slinky.Me also appears to have created a number of themes for the Chrome browser that are available in the Chrome Web Store.
Is this a professional agency hired by Google? Call me crazy, but it's looking more and more like a couple of guys who just really love Google products.
Reason #5 for skepticism
Our trusty CEO, Mr. Koch, took time in the midst of his "hacking crisis" to leave some comments on an active Google+ thread about the "leaked" video.
We delete this video !
Our servers was attacked by Hackers ! It was a secret projects.
They hacked our server where we keep many of the materials and they took information about our projects and also slinkys development/Stuff
Please no comments ! We working on defence from hackers and figure out how it was ! Please re-share information.........
Do I really need to say any more?
Look, I have no idea what the hell Slinky.Me actually does or who this Victor Koch guy really is. And hey, maybe the "Chromebook Pixel" is a legitimate product. I sure hope so.
But I'm a big believer in maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism about Internet-fueled "leaks" -- and putting all the pieces together, this story is about as fishy as they get.