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Emily Welker, Published September 23 2013

Hacker puts porn on local women's empowerment group website

FARGO – For a few days recently, a website for a local women’s empowerment foundation redirected viewers to a pornographic site if they were viewing it on a mobile device.

The hacking turned out to be a catalyst for Diva Connection to change its name, said foundation organizer Chris Linnares.

The organization is now tentatively called Women’s Impact Foundation.

People viewing divaconnection.org for roughly the last four or five days on a smartphone or tablet were supposed to see the group’s homepage, a black, pink and white design featuring two women hugging.

Instead, visitors using those devices were rerouted to a site with considerably less platonic images. The site was fixed Monday.

The irony of a women’s empowerment website being hacked by people pushing viewers to a site where women are being used as objects wasn’t lost on Linnares.

“I truly try in my life not to take anything personally,” she said. “It could be teenagers sitting in their basements having fun … or maybe it was someone trying to send a message.”

Linnares said the hacking wasn’t the only reason for the change to the organization’s name.

She said she’d received feedback that some women in the region didn’t understand Diva Connection was designed to connect women and their economic, professional and personal resources with other women in need in the community.

They though it was just about women getting together and having fun, Linnares said.

Some of that misunderstanding might be based on preconceived notions of what the term “diva” means.

“We don’t want to lose women because of the name,” said Linnares, who is the wife of Bill Marcil Jr., publisher of The Forum.

A splash page is set to be up on the Divaconnection.org site by Wednesday explaining the name change and redirecting visitors, and the new site is hoped to be operational by Friday.

“It’s become a tool to connect women with the world,” Linnares said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541