Among the political figures targeted, the hack mostly appeared to target Democrats or other figures on the left, drawing comparisons to the 2016 campaign. U.S. intelligence agencies established that Russia engaged in coordinated attempts to interfere in those U.S. elections through social media tampering and various hacks, including targeting the various campaigns and major party organizations.
The hack might also be a simple demonstration of Twitter’s weak security controls as the U.S. heads into the 2020 presidential election, a contest in which the service is likely to play an influential role.
The Bitcoin account mentioned in the fake tweets appears to have been created on Wednesday. By the end of the day, it had received almost 12.9 bitcoins, an amount currently valued at slightly more than $114,000. At some point during the day, roughly half that sum in bitcoin was withdrawn from the account.
Bezos, Gates and Musk are among the 10 richest people in the world, with tens of millions of followers on Twitter. The three men are worth a combined $362 billion, according to the latest calculations by Forbes magazine.
The same bogus offer cropped up a second time on Musk’s account, which has a history of sometimes befuddling tweets from the eccentric billionaire. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gates, who has become one of the world’s leading philanthropists since stepping down as Microsoft CEO, confirmed the tweet wasn’t from him. “This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” a spokesperson for the billionaire said in a statement.
This is hardly the first time hackers have created mischief on Twitter. Just last year, the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was broken into a nd used to tweet racist and vulgar comments.
The latest security breach prompted Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, to send a letter to Dorsey urging him to work with the FBI and the Justice Department on ways to improve Twitter’s security.
“A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security,” Hawley wrote.
Investors also appeared to be concerned about potential fallout from the hack affecting Twitter’s usage. Twitter’s shares fell 3% in extended trading after news of the hack broke.
AP political reporter Bill Barrow contributed to this article from Washington. AP Technology Writers Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, and Barbara Ortutay in Oakland, California, also contributed.
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