“60 Minutes” on Their Pro-Assad Twitter Hack: We’re Working on It


On Saturday evening, the 60 Minutes Twitter feed began looking suspiciously authoritarian and conspiracy-minded:

60 minutes Syria assad hack

 

Needless to say, this is not how the investigative news program typically does business. The torrent of anti-Americanism is widely believed to have been the result of hacking by pro-Assad elements irked by the State Department’s announcement on Saturday that the US would double non-lethal assistance to the Syrian opposition and provide new humanitarian aid. Since Saturday, the 60 Minutes Twitter account (as well as CBS’ 48 Hours account) have been suspended.

“We are resolving the issue with Twitter now,” a spokesman for 60 Minutes told me late Monday afternoon, insisting on anonymity. (At the time of this post’s publication, the show’s account remained suspended.)

CBS is hardly the first institution targeted by the armada of pro-Assad, pro-mass murder hackers. Since early 2012, the loosely defined Syrian Electronic Army (yes, that’s SEA) has disrupted the online and social-media operations of NPR, BBC Weather, AFP, Reuters, FRANCE 24, Al Jazeera, Human Rights Watch, and others. A Twitter account associated with the group was indeed recently suspended, though there’s no indication of US government involvement.

“We had a breach that stemmed from a successful spearphishing attack,” Emma Daly, communications director at Human Rights Watch, says, regarding the incident in March. “Someone was able to get access and post a message on the site, and posted it in such a way that it was automatically sent to our Twitter feed…I don’t want to say it was a minor [incident], but it was not a sophisticated attack. [Whoever did it] obviously didn’t like our reporting on Syria.”

UPDATE (4/23, 4:18 p.m. EDT): The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for hacking the Associated Press Twitter account on Tuesday, and sending out a Tweet falsely claiming that President Obama had been injured after two explosions rocked the White House. That tweet caused a brief stock market panic.

UPDATE (4/24, 8:30 p.m. EDT): The 60 Minutes Twitter account is no longer suspended.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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