Donald Trump Jr.’s account on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, was compromised, according to a spokesman for the former president on Wednesday. The account started sharing a number of strange and unpredictable remarks.
“Don’s account has been hacked,” Andrew Surabian posted on X, adding that a post claiming the former president had died was “obviously not true.”
The hijacked account falsely declared both that Donald Trump Sr. had passed away and that Trump Jr. would be running for president. The post was shared more than 1,000 times on X in a matter of minutes, and it received hundreds of thousands of views.
A pinned post on the account’s profile used a racial term to disparage President Joe Biden, while another post appeared to threaten the nation of North Korea.
The postings had been taken down about 30 minutes after they first appeared. CNN’s request for comment from X was not met.
In light of the event, and as the platform gears up for the 2024 elections, new concerns have been raised regarding X’s responsibility for protecting user accounts, particularly those held by prominent political personalities. Following massive layoffs last year that, according to owner Elon Musk, ultimately resulted in the elimination of more than 80% of the company’s manpower, X announced in August that it is expanding its safety and election teams.
Also unknown are if Trump Jr.’s private direct communications were possibly compromised by the breach and whether two-factor authentication was possibly set on his account.
The Federal Trade Commission is still looking into X’s ability to adequately protect user privacy and whether or not it may have gone against legally-binding promises it made to secure the platform in 2011. Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, the company’s former security chief, made a whistleblower disclosure last year that revealed pervasive and ignored security flaws, which sparked the investigation.
It has happened before when prominent accounts on the network were hijacked. For instance, hackers who pretended to be Twitter’s IT support in 2020 took control of accounts belonging to former president Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and others, including Biden and Musk themselves. Twitter said that the hackers had stolen account information at the time, possibly including private messages.