Swastika Hack Praises Turkey’s Erdogan On Hundreds Of Twitter Accounts

The hashtags #NaziNetherlands and #NaziGermany trended after the hack of Twitter accounts belonging to media organizations and popstars

Hacked Twitter account of Blockchain
Mar 15, 2017 at 10:19 AM ET

Swastikas and pro-Turkish messages were posted on hundreds of hacked Twitter accounts that included major media outlets, aid organizations and pop star Justin Bieber.

The identical tweets featured the hashtags #NaziNetherlands and #NaziGermany, and swapped out the accounts’ background photo with a Turkish flag and the profile photo with a symbol of the Ottoman Empire. It linked to a Youtube video featuring a number of speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against a celebratory soundtrack, and under the hashtag #LittleOttomanSlap warned of the upcoming referendum that if successful will provide sweeping powers to the Turkish president.

Other targets included Forbes, the World Meteorological Organization, bitcoin wallet Blockchain, Germany soccer club Borussia Dortmund, Justin Bieber’s Japanese account, and the U.K. Department of Health.

“We are aware of an issue affecting a number of account holders this morning,” Twitter said in a statement. “Our teams are working at pace and taking direct action on this issue. We quickly located the source which was limited to a third party app. We removed its permissions immediately. No additional accounts are impacted. Advice on keeping your account secure can be found here.”

After the attack, the hashtags #NaziNetherlands and #NaziGermany were shown to be have been used by more than 5,000 Twitter users by Wednesday morning, according to a Vocativ analysis.

The attack comes amid a heated diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands that started over the weekend, when Turkish ministers were forbidden from holding expat political rallies in the Netherlands ahead of a Turkish referendum on April 16. Erdogan called the Dutch “Nazi remnants” and the Turkish Twittersphere exploded with messages of Turkish pride and condemnations of Dutch officials. The spat came less than a week after Germany blocked similar Turkish political campaigning, spurring Erdogan to say that German “practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past.”

The April 16 vote in Turkey will allow citizens both at home and abroad to decide on constitutional amendments that would radically overturn the Turkish governmental system. If the “Yes” campaign wins out, Erdogan will be awarded sweeping presidential powers and may have the option of staying in power for another twelve years.

Turkey, a NATO partner, has maintained a shaky alliance with other European nations since Erdogan began cracking down on civilians following last July’s attempted coup in Turkey. European countries have been critical of the country’s slide into authoritarianism evidenced by the mass arrests and purges that resulted in nearly 100,000 civil servants being fired from their posts.