A new Twitter hack spree ensued and hundreds of compromised Twitter accounts distributed pro-Turkish messages on Wednesday, March 15, calling for a "Nazi Germany" and "Nazi Holland."
The hacks include a wide range of high-profile Twitter accounts, from media outlets to celebrities, which ended up sporting the Turkish flag and posting pro-Turkey messages in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Twitter Hack Pro-Erdogan
Tweets part of this hack spread messages with the hashtags #NaziAlmanya and #NaziHollanda, meaning Nazi Germany and Nazi Holland (the Netherlands), along with Turkish flags to show this was in connection with the Turkey dealings. The rogue tweets even showed swastikas, the symbol that Adolf Hitler and German Nazis used.
A slew of Twitter accounts seemed to have fallen victim to the same hack with the same pro-Turkey message favoring Erdogan, deepening the conflict with Germany and the Netherlands.
Nobody is safe, even Justin Bieber's Japanese account got hacked pic.twitter.com/urlSw4yaOy
— Arjun Kharpal (@ArjunKharpal) March 15, 2017
As Bloomberg reports, the disturbing swastikas and messages hit the verified Twitter accounts of Forbes Magazine, German publication Die Welt, Reuters Japan, and BBC North America, as well as the accounts of Sprint CEO and President Marcelo Claure, French politicians such as Alain Juppe, and even the European Parliament's Twitter account.
The rogue tweets adorning swastikas described the hack as a "little Ottoman slap" and included an ominous message saying "See you on April 16." That's the date when Turkey will have a referendum aiming to put more control in Erdogan's hands. The messages finished off with a condescending "Learn Turkish" suggestion for those who didn't understand what the Turkish-language tweets meant.
The hack doesn't seem to have entailed any phishing activity, and it looks like it unleashed its propaganda through third-party service Twitter Counter.
"We're aware that our service was hacked and have started an investigation into the matter," says Twitter Counter. "We've already taken measures to contain such abuse."
Twitter Counter has an impressive user base of more than 2 million users, and it keeps track of more than 350 million Twitter accounts, serving as a marketing tool for individuals and companies to manage their popularity on the social media platform. With this pro-Erdogan hack wreaking havoc on Twitter, however, Twitter Counter said that while it looks into the matter it will no longer allow people to post through its system.
Turkey Relations With The Netherlands And Germany: What's Going On?
For those unfamiliar with the political context of this whole mess, the Twitter hack follows growing tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Just last week, after a Turkish minister was prevented from visiting the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, Erdogan said that members of the Dutch government were "Nazi remnants and fascists." Erdogan also warned that the Netherlands would "pay the price" for this.
The dispute escalated on Tuesday as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told CNBC that Erdogan was "totally off the mark" by drawing a comparison between the Nazis and the Dutch. Rutte also said that Erdogan was acting "increasingly hysterical."
Amid the whole debacle, the Dutch are voting today in parliamentary elections, which are deemed to be a turning point for the far-right populist movement that's been echoing worldwide since Brexit made waves and Donald Trump made president.
As for the feud with Germany, it's basically the same tale. After Germany called off a political rally featuring a Turkish minister, Erdogan erupted and said that Germany's current practices are the same as the Nazi practices of the past. German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to Erdogan's accusations, arguing that such misplaced statements downplay and trivialize the severe crimes against humanity carried out by the Nazi.
Diplomatic tensions have been mounting recently as Turkey planned to have government ministers address rallies in the Netherlands and Germany to promote support for a national referendum to reform the constitution so that Erdogan gets more power.
At the same time, the tense disputes come at a sensitive time as the European Union is banking on a migrant deal made with Turkey, which has notably reduced the number of migrants reaching Europe. Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to drop the deal.
Turkey's feud with Germany and the Netherlands seems to be deepening and the latest Twitter hack adds more fuel to the fire.