UPDATED: The pop star’s triumph over President Obama, the Boston bombers and several Hollywood heavyweights may be due to the work of a couple of hackers.
Time magazine is holding an online vote for whom readers think should be its 2013 Person of the Year. The winner so far: Miley Cyrus, with more than 29% of the vote.
The twerk-loving pop star is beating world leaders, sports stars, the Boston Marathon bombers and numerous Hollywood figures as the person voters think most influenced the news this year for better or worse.
There are two polls: a candidate face-off and a second poll in which readers can vote yes or no on whether particular individuals influenced the news.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Cyrus was getting 29.1% of votes, ahead of Indian politician Narenda Modi (12.1%), NSA leaker Edward Snowden (9.4%), Texas state senator and abortion-rights activist Wendy Davis (5.4%) and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (5.0%).
Cyrus’ success, however, may not be based on the will of the people, but that of two hackers who have been rigging the vote for the pop star, as they explained to The Daily Dot.
Two programmers named Gains and Marek developed two scripts that would allow them to automatically cast multiple votes on Cyrus’ behalf.
Time has had problems with its Person of the Year online polls being rigged before, notably in 2009, in which 4chan founder Christopher “moot” Poole reportedly won the top spot, and in 2012, when North Korean programmers reportedly created software to make Kim Jong-un win.
This year, the magazine switched to a new online poll service, Poptip, which requires voters to log in with their Facebook and Twitter IDs, but Gains and Marek were able to circumvent that.
“We think we could of found a way, now that we’re investigating it further, in depth,” Gains told The Daily Dot. “I guess the biggest lesson I learned today is that even if it looks ‘un-riggable’ doesn’t mean it is. Just in the hour or so that we’ve been talking, I created a prototype and ultimately ‘beat the system.’ “
Evidently, at one point, he also rigged the vote for Snowden, but Cyrus has been in the lead every time we checked today.
Time, however, told Mashable that it’s on top of attempts to game the system.
“Time and Poptip are aware of the efforts to affect the results of the Person of the Year poll, and have measures in place so that only legitimate votes are being incorporated in the final tally,” a Time spokesperson told Mashable. “We’re delighted that so many people are having fun with this informal poll and contributing to the conversation [about who should win].”
Poptip also told Mashable that Cyrus’ ranking doesn’t take into account spammed votes, only authentic votes.
People in the running for Time’s accolade who also have Hollywood connections include the following: Nobel prize-winning author Alice Munro (1.2%), Jimmy Fallon (1.0%), Angelina Jolie (0.8%), Tesla CEO Elon Musk (0.8%), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan (0.5%), Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (0.5%), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (0.5%), Google CEO Larry Page (0.4%), Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (0.4%), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (0.4%), and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (0.3%).
Other noteworthy figures on the list include Vladimir Putin (4.8%), Rand Paul (1.7%), Malala Yousafzai (1.8%), Pope Francis (1.3%), 2012 winner President Barack Obama (0.8%), Diana Nyad (0.8%), Ted Cruz (0.5%), LeBron James (0.5%), Kathleen Sebelius (0.4%), Benjamin Netanyahu (0.4%), newborn British royal Prince George (0.4%), Boston bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (0.3%), Charles and David Koch (0.3%), Chris Christie (0.3%), John Boehner (0.3%), David Ortiz (0.2%) and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon (0.2%).
Online voting closes at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 4 and the winners of the reader polls will be announced Dec. 6.
Those of you who don’t agree with the online vote will be relieved to know that Time’s editors will make the final decision about who will be 2013’s Person of the Year, a selection that will be announced Dec. 11.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.