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Massive Hack Targets Twitter’s Most Prominent Users

by Neal Freyman

It first led to jokes, then serious concern Giphy

On a normal day, Twitter is mayhem. Throw in the simultaneous and widespread hacking of heads of state and billionaire accounts? Even the Joker would say, “Don’t you think this is a little much?”

Yesterday, bitcoin spammers appeared to hack the accounts of some of the most powerful people in the world—Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, to name just a few—leading initially to lots of jokes but eventually to deep concern.

The message the hackers posted on these accounts was a typical crypto scam technique, TechCrunch reminds us. Here’s an example:

Scammers said they’d double any bitcoin sent to an address, and the ploy was so simple it just did work. The address linked to the scam received more than $103,000 worth of bitcoin, CoinDesk reported.

The response

After hours of confusion and a muted response from the Twitter comms department, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.” Twitter stock fell 3% after hours.

A small twist: All of the hacked accounts were “verified,” essentially the celebs of Twitter and owners of the coveted blue check mark on their handles. Twitter blocked those accounts from tweeting at around 3:15PT, and then allowed the blue checks to once again bestow their wisdom upon us two hours later.

  • In the interim, a mini-French Revolution took place on the platform where the Twitter proletariat assumed control.

Big picture: This is an awful, awful look for Twitter and certainly the worst security breach it’s ever suffered. Considering its central place in political, economic, and cultural discourse, the company has a huge mountain to climb to prove it can be trusted as a communication platform.

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