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White House / White House

Fox News Seeks Investigation of Twitter Hack

Screen shot of the Fox News Politics Twitter page, where false tweets about President Obama remained on the site hours after Fox reported it had been hacked. The false tweets were removed at midday.

photo of Christopher Snow Hopkins
July 4, 2011

Fox News apologized early Monday for a series of phony tweets about President Obama. The network said its Twitter account had been hacked.

"Hackers sent out several malicious and false tweets that President Obama had been assassinated," the news organization said in a statement. "The hacking is being investigated, and FoxNews.com regrets any distress the false tweets may have created."

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Fox News has asked Twitter to investigate the incident, which raises questions about the integrity of Twitter news feeds -- now widely used by most major media organizations to disseminate their work. Jeff Misenti, vice president and general manager of Fox News Digital, said FoxNews.com requested "a detailed investigation from Twitter about how this occurred and measures to prevent future unauthorized access into Fox Newx.com accounts."

Late Monday afternoon, Twitter issued a statement saying that Fox had identified the "offsite vector that led to the compromise."

"While Twitter does monitor accounts for brute-force login attempts and similar methods of attack, we're unable to anticipate compromises that take place due to offsite behavior," the statement said.

Fox's Misenti issued a further statement in response: "We continue to work with a variety of sources to determine the origin of the attack and will work with all parties to bring this situation to resolution as quickly as possible. Our current focus is the security of our properties and to ensure that these types of situations do not happen again."

Beginning at 2:00 am on Monday, @FoxNewsPolitics began reporting that Obama had been shot twice while campaigning in Iowa and that the shooter's identity was unknown. The account is operated by FoxNews.com and has about 35,000 followers. The false tweets remained on the site until they were removed at midday.

President Obama returned to the White House on Sunday after a brief trip to Camp David. This afternoon, he will deliver remarks at a Fourth of July barbecue for military families, members of his administration and their families.

In an email earlier in the day, Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner told National Journal: "It's always good to remind people of the importance of actively protecting their account credentials" and provided a link with instructions on how to do so.

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