WGN App Story Shows Porn Link on Demo Phone [UPDATED]

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WGN App Story Shows Porn Link On Demo Phone
Reporting can be a dangerous business if you're covering a war zone, protests, or organized crime. And if you're doing a piece on high tech? Well, it can get downright embarrassing, as happened to WGN-TV in Chicago. A piece on an app to help Illinois students expunge old juvenile offenses from their records inadvertently showed that someone had a link to an online porn site either in their browser's history or saved as a bookmark, as Mediaite reported.

The story was supposed to be straightforward enough. As in other states, Illinois minors can find themselves arrested. The records can follow and disrupt chances for work and education. A youth group called Mikva Challenge decided to create an app to "educate young detainees and parents" and help them understand a process called expungement, under which juveniles can petition the courts to clear their records. The app is called Expunge.io.

WGN did a segment on the student-created app, with a student giving a demonstration of how it worked. The phone belonged to someone in the room where the demo was held, but not to any of the people interviewed or to anyone from WGN, said station news director Greg Caputo to AOL Jobs. Even so, the result turned into an embarrassing situation. As the student demonstrator typed on the screen to bring up the app, Google Search brought up the names of previously visited websites and bookmarked pages. Among them was one for Pornhub.

Pornhub is an ad-supported pornographic video sharing site that claims to have hundreds of thousands of videos available along with a site for mobile devices. How embarrassing.

That anyone noticed the reference was impressive. "It's exactly 1.1 second of a three minute, 15 second piece."It's exactly 1.1 second of a three minute, 15 second piece," Caputo said. "It's pretty small type. It's surprising to me that it was picked up at all. Certainly when we edited it and shot it, nobody saw that."

But the Internet is full of sharp-eyed individuals and someone noticed and was all too happy to spread the word. The link went to the top of Reddit, according to the Independent in London, under the title, "Chicago news needs a fresh start on their browser history" with an accompanying screenshot posted on Imgur. The comments were merciless. One of the tamer ones was, "Only a real man looks at porn without incognito mode".

After the realization broke, WGN took the story down off its own site and off YouTube. Apparently it found its own expungement app.

"I just feel badly that a really interesting story on its own merits about a bunch of young kids who got together to do something is so overshadowed by this little piece of business," Caputo said. "I think everybody does tend to look very carefully at what your edited product looks like and listen to make sure there are no words you don't want to have on television. ... It's just a reminder of how careful you need to be."
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