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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: Quartz

Twitter Says CEO Jack Dorsey Account Was Hacked, Offensive Tweets Posted

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Twitter said on Friday that the account of CEO Jack Dorsey had been hacked or “compromised” after a series of erratic and offensive messages were posted.


The tweets on the chief executive’s account contained racial slurs and suggestions about a bomb. They showed up on the @jack account of the founder of the short messaging service. The messages contained racial epithets. They also included a retweet of a message supporting Nazi Germany.


“We’re aware that @jack was compromised and investigating what happened,” a Twitter spokesperson said.


Some of the tweets contained the hashtag #ChucklingSquad. We believe this indicates the identity of the hacker group. The alleged hackers left the same calling card behind during recent hacks of other high-profile social media personalities.


Twitter said that the phone number associated with Dorsey’s account was “compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider”. This allowed a hacker to posts tweets to @jack by sending text messages.


Dorsey has finally secured his account. There was also “no indication that Twitter’s systems have been compromised,” according to the San Francisco-based internet firm.


It appeared that tweets posted on CEO Jack Dorsey’s account were up for about a half-hour before their removal.


Pinned atop Dorsey’s account was a tweet from early last year saying:

“We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.”


A barrage of comments fired off on the platform. They questioned why the Twitter CEO didn’t secure his account better before it was hacked. Users also mentioned how disturbing a sign it was that the service couldn’t keep its own chief safe on the platform.


“If you can’t protect Jack, you can’t protect… jack,” one Twitter user quipped.


PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 15: Chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. and Square Inc. Jack Dorsey. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images


The news came as Dorsey and Twitter moved aggressively to clean up offensive and inappropriate content as part of a focus on “safety.”


“This might be the only way to get rid of racist tweets on this platform,” a Twitter user commented.


What happened?

British-based security consultant Graham Cluley said the incident highlighted the importance of two-factor authentication. This is where a user must confirm the account via an external service.


Cluley advised people to make sure they use two-factor authentication and check the applications linked to their accounts.


“While it looks bad, it’s important to remember this is not some state-grade hack,” said R. David Edelman. “It’s fundamentally an act of petty vandalism; the equivalent of spray painting a billboard above Twitter HQ.”


Edelman is the director of technology, economy, and national security project at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont said the account appeared hijacked via a third party called Cloudhopper. Twitter acquired Cloudhopper about 10 years ago and had access to his account.


Cloudhopper enables users to send tweets on their phones via SMS.


University of Hartford communications professor Adam Chiara also spoke on the compromise of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account. He said, “While it’s tempting to laugh at the irony of it, the real-world consequences don’t make it funny.”


“Twitter can tell us that they are becoming more diligent with our privacy and security, but actions speak louder than words.”


The incident raised fresh concerns about how social media users — even prominent ones — can have their accounts compromised and used for misinformation. A Canadian member of parliament, Michelle Rempel Garner, subsequently highlighted this point.


“Between bots, trolls and abuse, I’ve been sceptical about @Twitter as a viable platform for some time now,” Rempel Garner also wrote.


“But the fact it took the platform’s owner (@jack) about 30 min to get his hacked account under control is deeply problematic. And [it] makes me worry as an elected official.”

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