Hackers claiming to be affiliated with the computer-hacker group Anonymous spiced up the news cycle Monday afternoon when they took over Senator Chuck Grassley’s Twitter feed to show their disapproval for the Iowa Republican’s support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)—and for his failure to use proper grammar in tweets.
The circus began at 1:28 p.m. Eastern Standard Time with this tweet: “Dear Iowans, vote against ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA, because this man, Chuck Grassley, wants YOUR internet censored and all of that BS.” By the time “#WINNING” was tweeted four minutes and six tweets later, the Internet had caught on.
HuffPostHill tweeted: “Why is #GrassleyHack taking so long to remedy? Did Grassley name Eeyore his social media director and not tell anyone?” Pourmecoffee tweeted: “Please return control to the Senator. I rely on this account for [University of Northern Iowa] volleyball scores and town hall attendance figures.”
It appears that the original hacker may be one of Grassley’s constituents—he or she mentions hacking the account out of boredom from a big snowstorm in Osage, Iowa.
Multiple hackers seem to have taken charge of the account in the 30 minutes of mayhem, with the last hacker kindly contacting Grassley’s office so they could retrieve the new password and take back control of the Twitter account.
Jill Kozeny, a spokesperson for Grassley, said in an e-mail, “Grassley’s staff noticed the hacking after the first false Tweet was posted, and the office immediately called Twitter to obtain access to the account so the password could be changed. The password has been changed, and Senator Grassley controls the account again.”
Once Grassley’s staff regained control of the account at around 2:15, it changed the password and began deleting the hacker’s contributions to the feed. Senator Grassley normally tweets from his BlackBerry but was traveling from Iowa to Washington Monday afternoon, staffers said—proof that there are larger ramifications to not being able to use 3G in the air than “Words with Friends” withdrawal. Now the only proof that the hacker struck lives on through retweets and screenshots.
Talking Points Memo got in touch with the last person to take charge of the account, who told Grassley’s office to “contact me at the email i set up at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the new password.” Apparently Grassley’s social media savior is “actually pretty liberal and a democrat” and was “just trying to do something nice.”
Although it was an embarrassing snafu, Grassley did reap the benefit of #WINNING many more Twitter followers, perhaps none of whom would support the fact that he was one of three original co-sponsors of PIPA, which was panned by the same Internet fiends who watched with glee as his Twitter account unraveled this afternoon. Although the tweeting fun is all over, the hacking may have inspired another trend as CNN Radio reporter Lisa Dejardins guesses: “NOW: smart staffers across the Senate and House quickly changing bosses' Twitter passwords.”