E! Online’s Twitter account was hacked on Saturday by a group who identify themselves as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA).
In a string of tweets that followed, the SEA posted messages stating that Justin Bieber was coming out of the closet and had admitted to his homosexuality in an E! Online exclusive.
One fake tweet read: ” Exclusive: Justin Bieber to E!online ‘I’m a gay.'”
Other tweets stated the Canadian’s reported girlfriend Selena Gomez supported “his coming out,” and that Angelina Jolie had admitted “Jordan is to blame for the Syrian refugees’ atrocious conditions.”
The Wrap reports that the E! News Twitter and text message service was also hacked with false tweets on Bieber, Lindsay Lohan and President Barack Obama subsequently posted.
One of these read: “E! News Breaking! Justin Bieber arrested in Dubai due to false tweets with him coming out situation developing.”
Another tweet contained an obscenity about Obama.
Slash Gear reports the fake tweets about Bieber triggered a surge of responses from his ‘Belieber’ followers, many of whom were shocked while others were “not surprised.” More still weren’t bothered either way.
The hackers added links to the tweets posted on E! Online’s Twitter feed which some have suggested led to malware infested sites.
The last tweet sent by the SEA before E!Online’s Twitter account was suspended read:
“The Syrian Electronic Army was here! Fans of @justinbieber, you have been trolled.”
The E! News Twitter account confirmed the attack shortly after it occurred.
Our account @eonline has been compromised and some incorrect information was sent out. We’re working with Twitter now to fix this.
— E! News (@ENews) May 4, 2013
The SEA attack comes after their still active Twitter account @Official_SEA12 sent out a warning on May 1, saying:
“The next target will be different … expect the “Syrian Electronic Army Was Here.”
The group has also claimed responsibility for previous hacks on other media Twitter accounts including several hosted by NPR, CBS and The Guardian.
Earlier this week Twitter sent out a memo to news outlets with suggestions as to how they could keep their accounts hack-proof.
Due to the recent spate of attacks Twitter is currently developing a two-stage authentication process intended to reduce account hacking. As yet, no start date has been announced for that new system.
The hackings are seen as serious in an industry where a 24/7 news cycle reacts quickly to information posted by news sites in the belief that is is accurate and reliable.