Well, maybe now it does: Yesterday, a hacker broke into the @foxnewspolitics Twitter account to tweet the chilling (fake) news that President Obama had been assassinated on July 4. Twitter death hoaxes are nothing new, and mainstream news organizations have gotten swept up in them before. These attracted attention in part because of the dramatic details, in addition, of course, to the source of the rumor:
[A]t about 2 a.m. Monday, a message was posted there that eerily presaged the posts that would follow about the president: “just regained full access to our Twitter and email. Happy 4th.” The next post said that the president “has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July indeed.”
The next one said he had been “shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown,” and offered the disturbing detail that he “bled out.” The next post said that the president had been shot at Ross’s restaurant in Iowa.
The tweets weren’t exactly believably composed. For instance, the last one read particularly oddly: “We wish @joebiden the best of luck as our new President of the United States. In such a time of madness, there’s light at the end of tunnel.” (Close observers of the Biden persona, incidentally, will know the vice president only yesterday started tweeting as @VP.)
A group calling itself Script Kiddies, apparently aligned with Anonymous and the “anti-security” hacking movement, has taken responsibility for the hack. But there was a political element to the stunt, too. In an instant message, a representative explained that Fox “was selected because we figured their security would be just as much of a joke as their reporting.” And while it was a holiday, the network didn’t seem in a special hurry to quash the Obama death rumors: The tweets were online for a full ten hours before they were pulled.
Update: Fox News says it was indeed in a hurry to pull the tweets. “The network was not in control of the account once it was hacked and Twitter was unreachable until late morning eastern time yesterday. The tweets were taken down as soon as Twitter gave back control of the account to the network,” Jeff Misenti, vice-president and general manager of Fox News Digital, said through a spokesperson. Twitter has not yet responded to requests for comment.