As we reported yesterday, the Fox News @foxnewspolitics account was hacked at 1.56am Monday morning – on the Fourth Of July, no less – and in an extremely crass move, the hijackers, who later identified themselves as the Anonymous splinter group “Script Kiddies”, then went on to publish six tweets announcing the ‘death’ of President Barack Obama.
The news was, of course, entirely false, but because the messages came from a verified account and provided sufficient detail the tweets were widely shared throughout Twitter.
The content was disturbing enough, but the really sickening part was how slow Twitter was to respond to the breach. It wasn’t until 12.34pm ET – over 10 hours since the first hacked tweet was published – that control of the profile was returned to Fox News and the offensive messages were removed.
When Fox regained access to their @foxnewspolitics profile, the Obama tweets were removed and they quickly published a message explaining that their account had been hacked, linking to – where else – FoxNews.com.
In the piece Fox News state that after the exploit became apparent they alerted the U.S. Secret Service – who are also on Twitter, although one imagines alternative channels were pursued, especially given previous events on the network – who are now investigating the hacking and will do “appropriate follow up”.
Jeff Misenti, VP and general manager of Fox News Digital, said FoxNews.com had also been in contact with Twitter.
“We will be requesting a detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred, and measures to prevent future unauthorized access into FoxNews.com accounts,” he said.
As for why this happened, Script Kiddies had this to say:
We are looking to find information about corporations to assist with antisec [Operation Anti-Security]. Fox News was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.
Quite. Still, none of this explains why it took Twitter so long to restore access to the @foxnewspolitics profile and, more importantly, remove the offending tweets. Ten hours is an eternity on Twitter, and there really is no excuse for such damaging messages to be left in the public eye for so long a period of time.
What niggles in particular is Twitter have been their usual nonchalant, tight-lipped selves about what has taken place, making their standard no-comment comments via the @TwitterGlobalPR account.
But hey: they do have some lovely parting gifts for you.
Yeah, thanks for the tip. And while Fox News deserves some criticism for what must have been a pretty weak password, it would be even more helpful, Twitter, if you stepped in and made things right just a wee bit quicker.