Celebrities and politicians have their vices and make mistakes like everybody else. They accidentally share controversial links on social media, post inappropriate comments, and expose private photos. As these incidents could cost them their careers, they often try to cover up their tracks by blaming hackers. From President’s Trump administration to Hollywood actors and NBA players — here’s a list of the 10 most notorious stories.
In 2018, MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid came into the limelight when a Twitter user revealed her controversial anti-LGBT blog posts written between 2005 and 2010, which he found on the Internet Archives.
Reid denied writing any of the material and claimed that hackers had accessed and manipulated her old blog. Reid’s story caused a lot of debate, with many people finding her explanation unbelievable. However, there is no evidence to prove or deny her claims.
Congressman Anthony Weiner had it all: money, power, career, and a bright future. He even had former US President Bill Clinton officiate at his wedding. But one day everything changed.
In 2011, Weiner was accused of sending a 21-year-old student a link to a sexually explicit picture of himself. Weiner denied the accusations, claiming that his Twitter account had been hacked by political opponents. But another picture was revealed soon after, and Weiner had no choice but to admit his transgressions.
Weiner resigned from Congress, but after two years decided to run for mayor of New York City. New stories came to light about his communications with women. In 2016, the Daily Mail published an article stating that Weiner was sexting a 15-year-old girl. He was arrested and sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Anthony Weiner has completed his prison sentence, hopes “to live a life of integrity” https://t.co/t04xlX4SjL
— TIME (@TIME) May 14, 2019
Sometimes one click on the wrong button is enough to end up on a tabloid cover. In 2017, James Brown, CBS sportscaster and host of The NFL Today, claimed he had been hacked after a link to a pornographic video was tweeted from his Twitter account.
Brown has over 30,000 followers on Twitter, so the link was seen by thousands before it was removed. However, the hacking story was met with skepticism, as many people found it strange that somebody would access his account to post only one link.
In 2017, Rudy Giuliani, an American attorney and former mayor of New York City, was appointed as President Donald Trump’s cybersecurity advisor and later joined his legal team.
These titles, however, didn’t protect Giuliani from cyber incidents. One year later, a link to an anti-Trump website was posted from his Twitter account. The politician stated that the account had been hacked and accused Twitter of allowing someone to invade his post and change it. The post had 16,000 retweets, making it one of the most popular tweets on his account.
Twitter allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message. The same thing-period no space-occurred later and it didn’t happen. Don’t tell me they are not committed cardcarrying anti-Trumpers. Time Magazine also may fit that description. FAIRNESS PLEASE
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 5, 2018
In the surge of COVID-19, many Australians could not access the government's website to register for welfare services. Minister Stuart Robert told the public that the website experienced a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, clogging it with traffic and making it inaccessible.
However, he backtracked his claims the very same day, admitting that the website was unavailable not because of a hack, but because it was incapable of supporting the large number of people who were trying to log in.
Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert lied today in the middle of a public health crisis to cover his own behind. He's the one who should be queuing up at Centrelink.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) March 23, 2020
Pakistani government official Rai Manzoor Hussain Nasir, who had banned over 100 books for their “blasphemous and anti-Pakistan content”, was caught “liking” an adult video on Twitter.
Nasir denied the allegations and suggested that his account had been hacked. He also fired 10 employees who were allegedly involved in corruption and had something to do with his breached Twitter account.
In 2017, CNN host Anderson Cooper blamed hackers after his Twitter account replied to President Trump’s tweet, calling him a “tool” and a “pathetic loser”. In a statement, CNN assured that the tweet was sent from a phone belonging to Cooper’s assistant, who had left it unlocked and unattended at a gym.
Many on the internet laughed at the explanation, as many considered it unlikely for somebody to find an unlocked phone and reply to only one tweet.
This morning someone gained access to the handle @andersoncooper and replied to POTUS. We're working with Twitter to secure the account.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) December 13, 2017
NBA star Kevin Durant is a role model for many wannabe basketball players, but even he can slip. In 2014, Durant tweeted a picture of himself smoking, which caused an uproar among his fans. In half an hour, the tweet was deleted and Durant said that his account had been hacked.
While the athlete never repeated the mistake, the picture of him blowing out smoke is still circulating on the internet.
Another “hacking victim” on the list is Hollywood actor Russell Crowe. In 2013, Crowe tweeted a picture of a naked woman and immediately caught the spotlight. The star of “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind” assumed the “it wasn’t me, it was a hack” defense.
Crowe later apologized to his fans, but stuck to the hack story. There is still no evidence to prove whether or not it was real.
Vinnie Jones is an actor and former football player. In 2017, a picture of 100 dead foxes was tweeted from his account, shocking fans and animal welfare organizations. Jones immediately denied guilt and blamed it on hackers.
The actor is known for his passion for hunting. He has posted pictures of trophies and advocated ‘lamping’ as a means of hunting animals at night.
I have just woke to see these tweets with fox pics , this is a hack ive never seen this pic in my life and did NOT twwet it is a HACK !!!!!
— Vinnie Jones (@VinnieJones65) July 24, 2017
In September 2020, China’s embassy in the UK urged Twitter to investigate an alleged hack into ambassador Liu Xiaoming's account. Ambassador Xiaoming liked a pornographic video and severals posts criticizing the Chinese Communist Party, which were subsequently unliked by whoever was controlling the account.
While Twitter is banned in mainland China, some officials use it to communicate with their audiences outside the country.
The embassy said that the hack was launched to embarrass the ambassador. However, many Twitter users called the alleged hack a cover-up.
A good anvil does not fear the hammer. https://t.co/4nb7lECEXM
— Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) September 9, 2020
It’s hard to say whether any of these were actually hacks or not. If you manage to keep your accounts secure, however, you hopefully won’t ever find yourself int he position of having to make that claim!
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