While many celebrities and politicians saw their Twitter accounts hacked into an apparent Bitcoin scam on Wednesday, the site was inundated with screenshots of their fake messages asking for cryptocurrency donations.
Among them were billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, as well as former President Barack Obama and rapper Kanye West.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been among the accounts compromised in some US media reports.
But there is no evidence that a screenshot, allegedly taken from Mr. Netanyahu’s Twitter account, is anything other than a fake.
Despite this, the rumor persisted and spread, the Chinese media directly quoting reports from American media, including CNN, which included the account of the Israeli leader in the list of hackers.
The Times of Israel also collected reports from agencies that included Mr. Netanyahu on the list of those compromised.
The tweet translated from Hebrew: “I give back to my community because of Covid-19!” All Bitcoin that will be sent to my address below, will be returned doubled. If you send $ 1,000, I will return $ 2,000! I do this only in the next 30 minutes!
The Israeli Embassy in London told the BBC, “The tweet in question was not tweeted from the Prime Minister’s official account. We think it must be wrong. ”
The BBC found no evidence that the tweet ever appeared on Netanyahu’s timeline, and the message itself appears to have been shared only as a screenshot, with no link to his Twitter account or the tweet in. question.
In addition, the message appears to be the only non-English tweet to go online at the time, and Netanyahu himself would be the only non-US account targeted by scammers.
It is not the first time that a fake tweet from a prominent politician has caused online confusion in a rapidly changing situation.
- Large American Twitter accounts hacked into a Bitcoin scam
- Twitter hacking: what went wrong and why it matters
Following the London Bridge bombing in November last year, a fake tweet allegedly written by then-Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested he sympathized with the striker who was shot dead by police.
Like Netanyahu’s supposed tweet, Corbyn’s fake post was only posted as a screenshot, unrelated to the tweet in question.
How can you separate the true from the false?
By Marianna Spring, disinformation and social media specialist
It’s no surprise that during the chaos of this Twitter hack, fake screenshots of public figures targeted by the same Bitcoin scam were revealed.
It is extremely easy to generate fake screenshots of online tweets and attribute them to public figures – even the Prime Minister of Israel. This is something that we have seen happen during elections and current events.
So how can you separate the real from the fake?
Always beware of screenshots. Make sure the account in the image matches the Twitter handle, image and name of the official account.
Check the account in question to see if the tweet exists – and if there is any other unusual activity on its feed.
Lots of Bitcoin scam tweets got deleted fairly quickly, however, that doesn’t always help.
Comparing the screenshot with the other real tweets from famous people was the best way to identify counterfeits. The same identical message has been tweeted in English multiple times – so messages in another language, or with wording changes, would be suspicious.
And if you can’t verify that it’s true – don’t share!