Last night Twitter suffered the largest security breach in its 14-year-history.
Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates were among many prominent US figures targeted by hackers.
Their accounts all tweeted a link to a Bitcoin account where the hackers promised followers they would pay back double whatever was sent to it.
The Bitcoin accounts, which can be watched live by anyone, were shown to be in receipt of over a hundred thousand dollars before the tweets were taken down.
Twitter have said it was a “co-ordinated” attack targeting its employees “with access to internal systems and tools”.
Last night it temporarily prevented all verified users from tweeting.
Aside from the alarming possibility that an internal breach means every user account could have been affected, the hack revealed something Twitter would rather keep hidden.
Several screenshots, allegedly of a “secret admin panel” were circulating last night, presumably made by the hackers themselves. Twitter seemed to confirm they were genuine when it began to suspend every account that shared the images.
In it they showed the view Twitter employees get when looking at an account. They can see whether the account is active and the user’s contact details, but it also contained things which Twitter has always denied exists, namely tools to engage in shadowbanning.
In one of the images, there appears to be an option to prevent the user from trending, and also one to prevent other users from finding their account if they search for it.
After claiming for years they do not shadowban, Twitter admitted before the hack that they can prevent tweets from specific users showing up in people’s feeds, but they claimed that this is not shadowbanning, and (somewhat contradictorily) they claimed that they never shadowban based on political viewpoints. However, the feature to prevent a user’s Tweet from trending, which has long been suspected to exist, now appears to be confirmed.
Twitter have some explaining to do, and not just about last night’s hack.
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