A spokesman for former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr.’s account on X – the platform formerly known as Twitter – had been compromised after the account began sharing a series of unusual and erratic posts.
“Don’s account has been hacked,” Andrew Surabian posted on X, adding that a post claiming the former president had died was “obviously not true.”
In addition to falsely pronouncing the death of the senior Trump, the compromised account also claimed that Trump Jr. would be running for president himself. Within minutes, the post had been reshared more than 1,000 times on X and viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Another post appeared to threaten the country of North Korea, while a pinned post on the account’s profile insulted President Joe Biden with the use of a racist epithet.
Roughly a half-hour after the posts surfaced, they had been removed. X did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The incident raises fresh questions about X’s role in securing user accounts, particularly those belonging to high-profile political figures as the platform prepares for the 2024 elections. In August, X said it is staffing up on its safety and election teams following mass layoffs last year that according to owner Elon Musk ultimately eliminated more than 80% of the company’s headcount.
It is also unclear whether the compromise may have resulted in unauthorized access of Trump Jr.’s private direct messages, or whether Trump Jr. may have had two-factor authentication enabled on his account.
X is still under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over the company’s ability to sufficiently protect user privacy and whether it may have violated binding commitments it made in 2011 to securing the platform. The investigation began after the company’s former security chief, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, filed a whistleblower disclosure first reported by CNN and The Washington Post last year that alleged widespread and unaddressed security vulnerabilities.
This is not the first time high-profile accounts on the platform have been taken over. In 2020, for example, hackers gained control of accounts belonging to former President Barack Obama, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and others including Biden and Musk themselves by posing as Twitter’s IT support. At the time, Twitter admitted that the hackers had downloaded account data that potentially included private messages.
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