July 16, 2024

Apparently Hacked, a Fox News Twitter Account Sent Out Alarming Posts

The Twitter account, @foxnewspolitics, one of many operated by Fox News, claimed that the president died while campaigning in Iowa, but gave no source for the news. On Monday morning, FoxNews.com first posted a brief statement saying that the reports were incorrect, and that it regretted “any distress the false Tweets may have created.”

The six messages were removed online around noon on Monday, about 10 hours after they were first posted, but not before attracting a flurry of attention overnight and in the morning.

Because of the seriousness of the content, containing graphic, though fictional, descriptions of the president’s death, senior Secret Service officials had gathered Monday morning to discuss them, said to a law enforcement official who declined to be identified because of an investigation into the matter.

A spokesman for the Secret Service, George Ogilvie, said, “We are investigating the matter and will be conducting appropriate follow-up.”

Jeff Misenti, the vice president and general manager of Fox News Digital, said in a later statement on Monday that the news organization would be requesting “a detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred, and measures to prevent future unauthorized access into FoxNews.com accounts.”

The FoxNews.com political news Twitter account, which has some 36,000 followers, had been dormant since Friday, but at about 2 a.m. Monday, a message was posted there that eerily presaged the posts that would follow about the president: “just regained full access to our Twitter and email. Happy 4th.” The next post said that the president “has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July indeed.”

The next one said he had been “shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown,” and offered the disturbing detail that he “bled out.” The next post said that the president was shot at Ross’s restaurant in Iowa.

The last Tweet stated: “We wish @joebiden the best of luck as our new President of the United States. In such a time of madness, there’s light at the end of tunnel.”

President Obama had been spending the weekend with his family at Camp David, and returned on Sunday, according to the official White House schedule. For the July 4 holiday, he is scheduled to host a barbecue, concert and fireworks on the South Lawn for members of the military.

FoxNews.com posted a short statement early on Monday morning explaining what had happened: “Hackers sent out several malicious and false Tweets claiming that President Obama had been assassinated. Those reports are incorrect, of course, and the president is spending the July 4 holiday with his family. The hacking is being investigated, and FoxNews.com regrets any distress the false Tweets may have created.”

Twitter accounts are hacked from time to time, but Monday’s incident attracted national attention because a presidential assassination was referenced and because a major news organization was affected. Increasingly, news organizations like Fox News have embraced Twitter as a venue for promotion and interaction with readers.

The false Twitter posts about Mr. Obama seemed even more provocative because Fox News is widely perceived to be a voice of opposition to the Obama administration. On Monday, thousands of people on Twitter poked fun at the incident and at Fox News by pretending to guess Fox’s Twitter passwords.

A spokeswoman for Twitter, Carolyn Penner, would not address why the posts to the Fox News political Twitter account stayed up so long, nor would she address reports about who was responsible. “We don’t comment on specific accounts, for privacy reasons,” she said.

A group calling itself the Script Kiddies claimed responsibility for hacking the Fox News Twitter account, according to Adam Peck, the former editor of Think, an online student magazine operated at Stony Brook University, who said he had conversed via instant messaging early Monday morning with a member of the group.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 4, 2011

An earlier version of this article erroneously defined the “antisec movement” as meaning “anti-secrecy.” In fact it means “anti-security.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d319c69858de3864fe1d305be8601283

Speak Your Mind