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Bay Area Techies Hack Into Burning Man's Ticket System, Jump Ahead 80,000 Waiting In Line

(CBS SF) -- About 200 Silicon Valley software engineers hacked into the Burning Man ticketing system Wednesday to jump in front of 80,000 others waiting in line from all over the world.

Wired reports that engineers from San Francisco, San Mateo and other parts of the Bay Area found a design flaw on the Ticketfly webpage that allowed them to cut in line.

On Friday, officials of the annual week-long event in Nevada announced they would find and cancel the hacked ticket orders.

"The good news (for us, not them) is that we can track them down, and we're going to cancel their orders," Megan K. Miller, Burning Man's director of communications told Wired. "Steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again in future sales."

Nearly all of the 40,000 Burning Man tickets were sold out in less than an hour during the "first come first serve" online queue.

A software engineer at Idle Games in San Francisco tweeted that he had managed to navigate Ticketfly's web servers and made out with two tickets.

His tweet was later deleted.  His Twitter account description is a "Sarcasm Specialist" so it's possible his tweet was in jest and the actual ticket line jumpers are keeping quiet on social media.

On Thursday, Burning Man officials confirmed that a backdoor had been created by hackers. Burning Man admits the error and says those hacked tickets will be put back up for grabs during the scheduled last-minute sale in August.

This isn't the first time Silicon Valley has been accused of intruding on Burning Man, an event described as an experiment in community, art and radical self-expression. Last year, techies, venture capitalists and celebrities were criticized by "Burners" for rolling in the desert with their air-conditioned camps, personal chefs and other VIP perks. In recent years, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and now Mark Zuckerberg and other employees from Facebook, Twitter and Uber have started making the yearly pilgrimage.

Tickets cost $390 -- up from the $35 in cost to attend 10 years ago. Last year, nearly 66,000 attended the festival, scheduled to begin the last Monday in August.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story shared a Tweet from Rob Banagale, the San Mateo-based founder of the Gliph messaging app, who had tweeted that he had "figured out a hack" to get to the front of the line.  He later contacted CBS SF to clarify that this was a joke, and that he added the Pac-Man ghosts to the green bar indicating his place in line. He tells CBS SF he never actually used the trick, but was proud that his joke made it to the Burning Man blog.
These are the tweets about his jest.

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