Social media website Twitter has faced a number of security issues in recent years, with the latest hack of the website seeing multiple high-profile accounts hijacked tp spread a Bitcoin scam. Here are some other times that Twitter’s security has failed.
Breitbart News recently reported that Twitter has suffered a major security breach, with multiple high-profile accounts being hijacked in order to advertise a Bitcoin scam that generated an estimated $100,000 for hackers. The accounts include Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Former President Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and the official accounts of ride-sharing service Uber and tech giant Apple.
This is not the first time that Twitter has faced major issues related to website and account security. Here are some other times that Twitter has suffered major security breaches.
1: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Account Hacked
Even the CEO of Twitter himself is not safe from hacking. Breitbart News reported in August of last year that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had his account hacked, with hackers posting a number of offensive messages including racial slurs to the accounts.
Some of the tweets posted to Dorsey’s account including “aqua up in this b****,” “Hitler is innocent,” “plugwalking to bed,” and “#ChucklingSquad get it trending for the Twitter password,” a possible reference to the group that hacked Dorsey’s account.
Other tweets included “Intel is there a bomb at Twitter HQ #ChucklingHella #ChucklingSquad.” Hackers also urged Dorsey’s 4.2 million followers to follow an account related to the hacking group calling itself the ChucklingSquad.
It was reported this week that there is evidence to suggest that individuals that are associated with the ChucklingSquad group may have been involved in the recent hijacking of major accounts.
2: Saudi Arabian Spies Infiltrate Twitter
In a shocking turn of events, it was reported in November of 2019 that federal prosecutors had charged two former Twitter employees with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia following an investigation by the FBI which discovered that the workers had accessed private user information and looked into the private accounts of critics of the Saudi government.
Breitbart News reported at the time that the Saudi government paid the Twitter employees hundreds of thousands of dollars and gave one a luxury wristwatch worth approximately $20,000. U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said in a statement at the time:
The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users.
We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law.
The two former employees were Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. Citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen. Abouammo was arrested in Seattle but Alzabarah fled the country to Saudi Arabia. Read more at Breitbart News here.
3: Rogue Twitter Employee Deactivates President Trump’s Account
In November 2017, Breitbart News reported that a disgruntled Twitter employee used his administrative powers at Twitter to deactivate President Trump’s account on his last day working at the firm. Twitter stated in a tweet that the deactivation was the result of a “human error,”
Earlier today @realdonaldtrump’s account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee. The account was down for 11 minutes, and has since been restored. We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.
— TwitterGov (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
The site later added that it was conducting a “full internal review” after it discovered that the deactivation was done by a Twitter customer support employee on their last day at the firm:
Through our investigation we have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review. https://t.co/mlarOgiaRF
— TwitterGov (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
The identity of the employee was later revealed to be Bahtiyar Duysak, a former Twitter contractor of Turkish origin who was born and raised in Germany and worked as a fixed-term contractor for Twitter under a U.S. work and study visa.
Duysak defended his actions at the time stating: “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything which I wasn’t authorized to do. I didn’t go to any site or tool where I wasn’t supposed to be at. I didn’t do any crime.”
4: Anti-Netherlands Tweets Spread Across Thousands of Hacked Accounts
In March 2017, Breitbart News reported that thousands of Twitter accounts were hacked resulting in anti-Netherlands propaganda messages being tweeted in Turkish across the platform.
The majority of messages were posted in Turkish, featuring hashtags such as “#NaziHollanda” or “#Nazialmanya” (“Nazi Germany”). Users reported that hundreds of accounts were being hacked per second, posting pro-Erdogan tweets. The hackers’ message added, “This gives you a little #OttomanSlap,” and “see you on April 16,” which seems to refer to a Turkish referendum to give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan more power scheduled for April 16th.
Many high-profile and official accounts were affected in the hack including Forbes, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, the UK Department of Health, Reuters Japan, BBC North America, Duke University, and Amnesty International.
The source of the hack was linked to pro-Erdogan, anti-Netherlands activists based on the content of the tweets posted. The Twitter third-party app Twitter Counter was believed to be the source of the hack, and the service sent multiple tweets from its Twitter account clarifying its involvement in the hack.
Read more about the hack at Breitbart News here.
5: History of “Errors” that Censor Conservative Voices
Twitter has a long history of censoring conservative content as the result of “error” across its platform. In February of 2020, Twitter flagged a video posted by Vice President Mike Pence as “sensitive content” deterring users from viewing it. The issue was noticed by the Vice President’s press secretary who tweeted about the issue:
— Devin O’Malley (@VPPressSec) February 11, 2020
In October of 2019, the account of Carpe Donktum, a favorite meme-maker of President Trump’s, was banned from Twitter’s platform before later being reinstated. The account was banned shortly after Donktum shared a video by Project Veritas which appeared to show undercover footage of CNN employees discussing the broadcaster’s anti-Trump bias.
This is the clip Carpe was banned for posting… I’ll send it around to others. pic.twitter.com/hOM5hTDuGz
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) October 14, 2019
Following the reinstatement of Donktum’s account, a Twitter spokesperson told Breitbart News that a copyright claim is what caused the suspension of the account.
In July of 2018, Twitter alleged that the apparent suppression of autocomplete search suggestions for Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz was the result of an “error.” A Twitter spokesperson denied that shadowbanning exists, telling Breitbart News that the issue with Gatez’s search results were fixed. The spokesperson stated:
As we have said before, we do not shadowban. We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box, and [are] shipping a change to address this. The profiles, Tweets and discussions about these accounts do appear when you search for them.
The latest Twitter hack revealed internal Twitter administration tools, which featured buttons for each account labeled “Trends Blacklist” and “Search Blacklist” which would seem to imply that accounts can be blacklisted easily from search results.
Read more about Twitter’s latest hack at Breitbart News here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org