Sean Hannity’s verified Twitter account disappeared for a few hours on Saturday, after a message that said “Form Submission 1649” was seen.
Visitors to the conservative Fox News star’s page then received a “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist” message. While this occurred, Twitter representatives could not be reached, leaving the explanation up to Fox News, who deferred all questions to Twitter.
Eventually, Twitter confirmed that Hannity’s account had been compromised.
“While we normally do not discuss individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons, we have permission from the account owner to confirm that account was briefly compromised,” Twitter said by email.
Many Hannity followers were quick to point out that the shut down was similar to that of President Donald Trump’s verified account in November.
Twitter’s first explanation of Trump’s account deactivation was that it must have been an accident, however just a few hours later, they announced that an outgoing disgruntled employee shut it down.
The lack of protections around accounts of important Twitter users is a known issue inside the company, former employees said. Of particular concern is that many of the customer support staff with high-level privileges are third-party contractors located in the Philippines and Singapore.
“Someone in Singapore can be the person to make a 3-second decision on whether to suspend a verified account, that’s pretty scary,” a former employee shared.
As quickly as social media can build a global brand, a disgruntled insider or hacker can tear it down. Apparently, there is quite a bit of money in it as well. A stolen social media account is worth more than a stolen credit card.
As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, they are also becoming more adept at stealing social media credentials and taking over accounts. Account takeovers can lead to the unauthorized publishing of confidential information, such as intellectual property, legal, regulatory and compliance violations, disclosure of personal data and identity theft. The results can produce lasting, compromised reputations and significant financial losses.