The Fox News Politics Twitter account, which FoxNews.com uses to publish its political news on Twitter, was hacked earlier this morning. The hackers, who identified themselves as "The Script Kiddies" and said they shared the spirit of prominent hacking group Anonymous, sent out several malicious and false tweets claiming that President Obama had been assassinated, according to The Telegraph.
Tweets included "BREAKING NEWS: President @BarackObama assassinated, 2 gunshot wounds have proved too much. It's a sad 4th for #america. #obamadead RIP" and "#ObamaDead, it's a sad 4th of July. RT to support the late president's family, and RIP. The shooter will be found" as well as "@BarackObama shot twice at a Ross' restaurant in Iowa while campaigning. RIP Obama, best regards to the Obama family." Since the Fox News Politics Twitter has over 34,000 followers, the tweets spread like wildfire on the social network.
Those reports were of course incorrect. The president is spending the July 4 holiday with his family at the White House. The tweets have since been removed from the feed, but the damage has already been done.
FoxNews.com says it alerted the US Secret Service about the issue. Jeff Misenti, vice president and general manager of Fox News Digital, said FoxNews.com was 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," Misenti said.
The news website also published a short statement apologizing to its readers. "FoxNews.com regrets any distress the false tweets may have created."
What makes this particularly worrying is that the Twitter account in question is a Verified Account. Twitter launched this option as a beta on June 11, 2009, allowing famous or notable people to announce their Twitter account name. The home pages of these accounts display a Verified Account badge, but when they're hacked this status just ends up working against them.
Twitter needs an option to let users retract tweets in some way. The company would have to verify a request to do so, but there needs to be a way to fight back against episodes like this one.