Twitter raises suspicions with upcoming election


Hannah Waskiewicz

With Twitter’s reputation of being hacked numerous times, users can only hope that it will not greatly impact the information they receive through the app.

Twitter: a popular social media app used by not only teenagers but also famous celebrities. It is the final week before one of the most highly charged presidential elections in our nation’s history, which means people will be turning to Twitter to see not only the general public’s opinion on this topic but even the candidates speaking out about it.

Twitter, along with other social media apps have had their fair share of scandals. The app also has many disadvantages when it comes to finding reliable information.

340 million new tweets appear each day, and with the plethora of new tweets and the number of users that account holders follow, individual user tweets have the tendency to bury quickly and many tweets may go unseen by the audience it’s intended for. Twitter also has a character limit to its posts. Users must type tweets carefully, being they only have 140 characters to work with. In addition, while Twitter enables the posting of pictures, it’s limited when it comes to video posting. The app has 140 million active users, but there is always a small percentage of spammers. Twitter has many security measures for bots and spammers but they both still exist. Spammer’s tweets are usually easy to remove but are still a nuisance. Lastly, Twitter offers a direct message feature that allows users to speak privately to each other. However, Twitter enables users to send direct messages to only one other user at a time. This makes its messaging system inefficient when compared with other social networking and communication means. Users must be cautious of tweets that spread misinformation and understand that although it may be a very popular used social media app, not everything you read on the internet is true.

Looking at these disadvantages makes users suspicious of finding tweets involving this upcoming election, unsure if they are reliable. Twitter also had a massive hack in July, which brought much confusion.

The massive hack on this website on a Wednesday afternoon in July led to some of the most popular celebrities being blocked. This seemingly led to a cryptocurrency scam that may have netted upwards of $100,000 in a matter of minutes. Twitter, however, did not confirm how the block worked but appeared to only apply to accounts that were verified by Twitter. These verified accounts could still retweet existing tweets. Unverified accounts, on the other hand, were unbothered by this block and were able to tweet normally.

Twitter tweeted confirming that some users may be unable to tweet and also noted that password resets may be disabled while Twitter works to correct the situation. They tweeted again saying they were limiting tweets, password resets, and some other account functionalities.

“Most accounts should be able to tweet again. As we continue to work on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible,” Twitter Support said while speaking out about the issue.

An early Twitter investigation found a “coordinated social engineering attack” that successfully targeted company employees. In the context of cybersecurity, social engineering is physiological manipulation, meaning the Twitter employees were tricked in some way by the hackers. The hackers can tweet from an account and could potentially be able to read private messages.

“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweets on their behalf. We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it,” Twitter said in a statement about this manipulation.

The company is taking significant steps to limit access to internal systems and tools.

Twitter did in fact undergo another hack in 2013 when the Associated Press tweeted about explosions at the White House and sent the stock market plummeting temporarily. Last year, the account of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was also hacked. And, one of their biggest hacks took place during the 2016 presidential race, when emails from Hilary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee were leaked by Russian government hackers.

Several victims of the hack said they used multi-factor authentication to protect their accounts, but that security feature seemed to be useless. Celebrities and politicians like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Joe Biden tweeted out bitcoin spam. Our president, on the other hand, has not been affected by this hack and hopefully soon, verified accounts will be able to resume posting tweets.

As Twitter seemed to be a part of many different hacks and scandals, we can only hope this hack is just a silly coincidence and will not affect the future of detecting extremely important news.