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SEPTEMBER 2020

After Hacking Public Figures’ Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform’s Censorship Admin Panel

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After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

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As a result of hackers getting access to the accounts of politicians and businessmen, Twitter has apparently limited its functionality and the possibility to change account information.

Just after midnight, on July 16th, the accounts of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett were hacked and began sharing information of a fraudulent scheme.

The tweets promised that whoever sends BitCoin to a specific address, they would receive more in return. But only if it happens within half an hour. As a result, more than $100,000 was sent to one of the bitcoin wallets.

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

Twitter later confirmed in a series of tweets that the attack was caused by “a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”

More interestingly than the hacking, the hackers posted screenshots of the admin panel of Twitter.

It turned out that social network employees can put invisible tags on their accounts in order to lower citation and issuance.

Now Twitter is banning the accounts of people who post the admin panel screenshots, claiming that they “violate the rules of the community.”

TechCrunch cited an anonymous source that said the attack was carried out by a hacker known as “Kirk”. He generated approximately $100,000 in the matter of hours via the hacked accounts.

“The person told TechCrunch that Kirk had started out by selling access to vanity Twitter accounts, such as usernames that are short, simple and recognizable. It’s big business, if not still illegal. A stolen username or social media handle can go for anywhere between a few hundred dollars or thousands.”

Kirk allegedly had access to an internal tool on Twitter’s network, which allowed them to effectively take control of a user’s account.

The alleged tool can be seen on the screenshots below:

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

After Hacking Public Figures' Twitter Accounts, Hacker Reveals Platform's Censorship Admin Panel

Click to see full-size image

The tool appears to allow users to control access to a user’s account, including changing the email associated with the account and even suspending the user altogether.

To gain control of the platform, Twitter briefly suspended some account actions and prohibited some verified users from posting in an effort to counter the account hijacks. Twitter later tweeted it “was working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The issue is not so much about the hacking of prominent figures’ accounts, but rather that the Twitter admin panel was shown. It is no secret that social media algorithms are quite biased, and this is yet another piece of evidence of the censorship that is being carried out, both manually, and automatically.

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