Hackers temporarily took over the Twitter breaking-news feed and mobile-alert system of E!, the celeb-focused cable network owned by NBCUniversal, and sent out several fake messages including one purporting to reveal that Justin Bieber was gay.
Group responsible for the hack apparently was the Syrian Electronic Army, the same collective that compromised Associated Press’s Twitter account last month and before that those of CBS, NPR and BBC. Bieber’s official Twitter feed as of late Saturday had not made any reference to the fake news alerts.
“Eonline’s breaking news Twitter and sms accounts were compromised today,” cabler said in a statement Saturday. “We’re working to have this resolved as quickly as possible and are fully investigating the incident. We apologize for any confusion that the erroneous news alerts may have caused.”
E!’s Twitter account was briefly suspended. Network sent an official tweet at 5:39 p.m. ET explaining the problem after it regained control:
This account @eonline was compromised and some incorrect information was sent out. We're working with Twitter now to fix this.
Bogus tweets, since deleted, included “Exclusive: Justin Bieber to E!Online: I’m a gay” and “Angelina Jolie admits, in E! latest issue, that Jordan is to blame for the Syrian refugees’ atrocious conditions.”
Hacker group Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility, reported Mashable, which posted images of the fake tweets. After the group took over the AP’s Twitter account April 23 and posted a fake alert that the White House had been attacked, stock markets swooned, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 150 points before recovering.