Needless to say that no one was amused.
Late Friday evening, hacking group The Script Kiddies, which is known to be an offshoot of Anonymous, hacked into the official @NBCNews Twitter account and posted a fake breaking news alert about a terrorist attack at Ground Zero.
The tweet read: “Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed into the site, suspected hijacking. More as the story develops.”
Ryan Osborn, The Director of Social Media at NBC News (@Rozzy on Twitter), was very quick in addressing the hack, sending a tweet shortly after saying, “The @NBCNews account has been hacked. Working on it. Please don’t retweet any misinformation.”
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Twitter responded by immediately suspending both the Script Kiddies Twitter account (@s_kiddies) and the NBC News account until the issue is resolved. The @NBCNews account was reinstated, with the false tweets removed, about an hour later.
NBC News released an official statement after the hack saying, “The NBC News twitter account was hacked late this afternoon and as a result, false reports of a plane attack on ground zero were sent to @NBCNews followers. We are working with Twitter to correct the situation and sincerely apologize for the scare that could have been caused by such a reckless and irresponsible act.”
Reckless and irresponsible is right, as the hackers were playing into public fears that a terrorist attack will take place on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, which takes place on Sunday. Government officials have confirmed that they’ve received specific, yet unconfirmed threats against the country in light of the anniversary, focused on the New York and Washington D.C. areas.
This isn’t the first time that The Script Kiddies have managed to crack into a major news outlet’s Twitter. In July, the group claimed to be responsible for taking over the @FoxNews Twitter feed, sending tweets alleging that President Barack Obama had been assassinated. While the false tweets managed to stay online much longer than those from the @NBCNews hack, in both cases, the Twitterverse was smart enough to know that it was nothing but a really bad prank.