Twitter responded to this morning’s brazen hacking spree by temporarily barring the platform’s verified users from posting new tweets.
Unverified punters, who make up the vast majority of Twitter’s user base, had an absolute field day.
In case you missed it: more than a dozen high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of former US President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and muso Kanye West, were hijacked this morning.
Whoever was behind the hack took control of those accounts, asking followers to send Bitcoin to a dodgy cryptocurrency wallet.
Twitter deleted most of the offending tweets in a matter of minutes, but it appears the hacker, or hackers, pocketed over $160,000 through the scam.
The social media site said it’s looking into the security breach, and has suspended the ability of some users to post for the time being.
We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020
The security breach exclusively hit verified Twitter users.
Twitter verification does what it says on the tin: it’s essentially the platform’s way of noting which accounts are genuine and trustworthy, and requires users to prove they are who they say they are.
That appearance of authenticity is likely why the accounts were hijacked in the first place.
But it’s not only celebrities and politicians who verify their accounts .News outlets, individual journalists, and other public figures can also apply for Twitter verification, receiving a blue tick next to their username in the process.
While blue ticks are a quick way of telling if an account is legit, they have also become a de facto status symbol on the platform. To a certain kind of poster, verified users bear clout the average user does not.
This morning, the turns tabled, and unverified users took the opportunity to clown on their blue-ticked brethren.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) July 15, 2020
— damo???? (@mfdamo) July 15, 2020
blue checks trying to abandon their verified status like a vanquished army casting off their uniforms to avoid being identified
— Garbage Ape ???? ???? (@GarbageApe) July 15, 2020
Other users even likened the temporary silencing of verified accounts to some kind of low-key and profoundly meaningless revolution.
Non verified users rn pic.twitter.com/b1JaS0mcwU
— ???? (@HipCityReg) July 15, 2020
What the world would look like without verified accounts pic.twitter.com/L6DCbQONwe
— Ramp Capital (@RampCapitalLLC) July 15, 2020
Twitter right now pic.twitter.com/Lc4yPxkSEc
— Hubert Vigilla (@HubertVigilla) July 15, 2020
THE VERIFIED CAN'T SPEAK. THE NON-VERIFIED UPRISING HAS BEGUN
— Zac Bowden (@zacbowden) July 15, 2020
MAN IT IS BULLSHIT THAT ONCE AGAIN BLUE CHECKMARKS ARE GETTING ALL THE EXCITING NEW FEATURES FIRST, ESPECIALLY ONCE AS GOOD AS "YOU'RE FINALLY FREE FROM TWEETING"
— Christine Love (@christinelove) July 15, 2020
VERIFIED TWITTER: This website will never survive without us.
REGULAR TWITTER: pic.twitter.com/7iIPzGEm0c
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) July 15, 2020
Verified accounts: *Unable to tweet*
All of Twitter: pic.twitter.com/jQRSyh6qhb
— ♠️Ender | BLM ✊???? (@SpadesEnder) July 15, 2020
Lil Nas X, the rapper and Twitter poster extraordinaire, also appears to have created a new and unverified account to post through the chaos.
THIS IS LIL NAS I CANT TWEET U GUYS PLEASE GIVE ME ATTENTION pic.twitter.com/H54avFrf1r
— Not LIL NAS (@NotLILNAS1) July 15, 2020
Meanwhile, some users have taken the opportunity to note that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the broader team have the capacity to silence notable accounts en masse, but rarely choose to swing that banhammer.
Kind of interesting frankly that @jack can just shutdown the accounts of thousands of politicians, journalists, activists, Kardashians, etc with the flip of a switch.
— Matthew Schafer (@MatthewSchafer) July 15, 2020
Users being temporarily silenced is hardly the biggest issue at play on Twitter today, and the platform’s security team seems to have a mighty task ahead of it.
But for a few shining hours, the platform’s unwashed and unverified plebes posted freely, temporarily unencumbered by Legit Users. Who knows when we’ll see that happen again.Image: Peter Cade / Getty Images