Spin Cycle

07.04.11

Fox Hacked with False Obama Report

Group claims credit for Twitter posts claiming president was killed

The hacking of a Fox News account on Twitter has set off some Fourth of July fireworks, made all the more disturbing by the vicious content involving President Obama.

And the choice of Fox doesn’t seem to be an accident.

Fox issued a statement saying the messages—that Obama had been assassinated—were obviously wrong and that it regrets “any distress the false tweets may have created.”

What point the hackers were trying to make remains a mystery, though their distaste for Fox appears to underline the malicious exercise.

Adam Peck, who blogs at a Stony Brook University site called Think, reported that he interviewed a member of the hacker group Script Kiddies, which claimed responsibility for the hack. Peck reports that Script Kiddies has joined with such groups as Anonymous and the now-defunct LulzSec in the anti-security movement that has targeted corporations and government.

Peck quoted his Script Kiddies informant as saying: “I would consider us to be close in relation [to Anonymous], 2 of the members of our group were members of Anonymous. I was a member of Anonymous. We hope to be working with them soon…

“We are looking to find information about corporations to assist with antisec. Fox News was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.”

The unnamed source indicated that Fox could be the subject of further attacks: “I’ve looked into their security and site defacement does not seem to be an option. Everything else is fair game.”

The tweets from @foxnewspolitics, which has 37,000 followers, ricocheted around Twitter and were not removed until around noon on Monday. The New York Times says the Secret Service is looking into the matter and that Fox is conducting its own inquiry. Twitter declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.

One of the first tweets from the hackers, in the early-morning hours Monday, said Obama “has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July indeed.”

A subsequent tweet said he Obama been “shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown,” and had “bled out.” The next one said he had been shot at Ross’s restaurant in Iowa.

In fact, Obama had been spending the weekend with his family at Camp David and returned to Washington on Sunday.

The final message said 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.”

The style of the tweets makes them seem an obvious fake, but anything can go viral in today’s wired culture. Hackers have been able to access all kinds of accounts, and the damage can be significant: When Sony was hacked by the LulzSec outfit, personal information from more than 1 million users’ accounts was released. The Fox attack was different in its attempt to discredit a news network by released fabricated and disturbing reports.

Jeff Misenti, general manager of Fox News Digital, says that “FoxNews.com is working with Twitter to address the situation as quickly as possible. We will be requesting a detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred, and measures to prevent future unauthorized access into FoxNews.com accounts.”