Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hackers Attack Argentine President’s Twitter Page

Visitors to the Twitter page of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner where received with a surprise earlier this week after it was reportedly attacked by hackers.

The Argentine government was forced to shut down the president’s official Twitter page on Tuesday in response to the apparent infiltration. 

On Monday the background of Kirchner’s account was changed to the logo of Argentine newspaper Clarin and included a photo of Jorge Lanata, a journalist who has accused Kirchner of widespread corruption.  Several tweets were written poking fun at the government ("No me borren los tuits corruptossssssssssssss" and "ineptosssssssssssssssssssssss") as well as teasing Lanata and the TV channel that airs his weekly program (“El living de canal 13, defendiendo al gordo chanta que les vende un buzón son de terror”).  These messages were removed within minutes of their publication and the account was subsequently suspended. 

As of the time of this blog post, Kirchner’s Twitter page continues to be down and with a headline reading “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

A statement from the Argentine government was made yesterday that denied making any alterations to the president’s Twitter page aside from suspending it.  Officials did not identify who could’ve infiltrated the account but did allege that her website was the target of at least three distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) over the weekend.  (The Telecom Argentina phone company corroborated these claims).

Kirchner hasn’t been the only Latin American leader whose Twitter account has been compromised.  Last April, Peruvian hackers purportedly infiltrated the Twitter page of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.  In February 2012, Interpol arrested twenty-six supposed members of the Anonymous collective and accused them of planning DDoS attacks against Chilean and Colombian government websites.

Despite the possible pitfalls of extensive Twitter use, an increasing number of Latin American heads of state have relied on the social media site.  In Kirchner’s case, Twitter allows her to promote government policies and actions while circumventing media outlets that don’t see eye-to-eye with her.  She also uses Twitter for personal, non-political reasons:

Then, there are lighter Tweets: pictures with Pope Francis, a boxing champion, and her dogs. Or her recounting of casual conversations with Argentines on the road, the birth of her grandson, and even her musings over her favorite TV show.
"I'm a fan of the series Games of Thrones. I love it," Fernandez tweeted on April 28.
"When the DirecTV people came to see me to announce some investments I asked them if they could please get me season three ... I'm sure that tomorrow someone from the opposition will denounce me for asking and receiving gifts."
Kirchner is said to have more than 2.2 million Twitter followers, which would place her as the most followed Latin American leader.  Yet the Argentine media reported earlier this month that nearly half of her followers come from false profiles.

Video Source– YouTube via user TVPublicaArgentina

Online Sources – Official Twitter page and website of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; Mercopress; El Observador; La Nacion; NBC News; El Diario/La Prensa; Christian Science Monitor; Diario Los Andes;

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