On July 15, 2020, the Twitter world was turned upside down. Seemingly out of nowhere, high-profile accounts started tweeting about giving away money and promoting sketchy Bitcoin donation matching.
The likes of Jeff Bezos, Uber, Apple, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Kanye West all participated in the event—or at least their accounts did. In total, more than 100 accounts were affected.
Twitter’s investigation eventually found out who was responsible for the massive hack. However, not before it was able to essentially shut down the platform for several hours and the hackers collected an estimated $100,000 in Bitcoin.
Now, the teenage hacking group responsible for the largest hack in Twitter’s history is the spotlight of a new documentary that will air on FX and Hulu.
There are a number of good documentary series out there. However, few can match the in-depth investigations and production quality of “The New York Times Presents.”
This week’s episode, scheduled to air on Friday at 10 p.m. EST, will focus on the teen hackers. Titled, “The Teenager Who Hacked Twitter,” it will feature investigative reporting about the incident and break down what went wrong for one of the world’s largest social media platforms.
This isn’t The New York Times’ first investigation of the story. Days after the incident, the paper published an interview with the hackers. A small team of Discord users in their late teens and early 20s was deemed to be responsible.
Ultimately, at the end of July, police in Tampa, Florida, arrested Graham Clark, a 17-year-old. He now faces 17 counts of communications fraud, 11 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, organized fraud of more than $5,000, and accessing computers without authorization. Clark will be tried as an adult and has pled not guilty to all of the charges.
Meanwhile, two others have also been charged in relation to the hack. Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old from the U.K., and 22-year-old Nima Fazeli were allegedly involved with the incident.
The attack orchestrated by Clark didn’t result in much damage. Aside from those who were scammed into sending Bitcoin, the biggest issue was that most verified Twitter accounts were locked for several hours while the company tried to figure out what was happening.
However, the size and high-profile nature of the attack were unsettling. After all, if a teenager could hijack some of the platform’s most noteworthy accounts, what would stop someone more nefarious from doing so? It also demonstrated that Twitter can be used to create chaos when in the wrong hands.
Moving forward, the company has a lot of work to do. Twitter has become more than a social media platform. It now serves as one of the top news resources in the world and is a crucial means of public communication. With that in mind, hacks like the one in July are simply unacceptable.
Friday’s documentary should certainly be an interesting watch and may even reveal new details about Twitter’s darkest day.