Followers and journalists fooled by 'fake' Pope tweets
- Published: 15/03/2013 at 02:52 AM
- Online news:
Pope Francis I may be in office for less than 24 hours, but hundreds of thousands have already been fooled into following an imposter.
According to eagle-eyed writers at The Slate, within moments of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's being elected as the Pope of the Catholic Church, news agencies started trawling Twitter in search of his feed and discovered that not only did he have his own personal account @JMBergoglio (now suspended) but that he was an avid tweeter. In fact, since February he had dealt with subjects ranging from same-sex couples' adoption rights to his popularity if he were to be named Pope: "If I'm going to be the new pope, kids are going to love me more than Santa Claus," he had apparently tweeted on February 28. And of course, these journalists re-tweeted his remarks.
The revelation of a personal account led to thousands of new followers. Graham Cluley of computer security company Sophos, who was monitoring the situation, said that the account had attracted hundreds of thousands of followers and that "Every time I refresh my browser I see hundreds more people are choosing to follow the account."
Of course, the account was a fake and has now been suspended by Twitter. The Cardinal's first ever legitimate tweet came from @Pontifex, the Vatican's official account, which tweets in Latin, not Spanish, and which proclaimed at 7:33pm GMT on March 13 "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," or "The Pope has taken the name Francis" for non-Latin speakers.
And while the episode can be seen as amusing, there is also a serious lesson to be learned. One of the most effective ways for cybercriminals to launch attacks is to hijack a legitimate Twitter account -- as in the case of Burger King and Jeep -- or impersonate a popular figure in order to spread malicious links, spam individuals or launch phishing attacks.
About the author
- Writer: AFP Relax News
Position: News agency