Some of the world’s richest and most influential politicians, celebrities, tech moguls and companies were the subject of a massive Twitter hack on Wednesday. Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Kim Kardashian West and Bill Gates were among the accounts pushing out tweets asking millions of followers to send money to a Bitcoin address.
All of the tweeted messages from the accounts shared similar language. The tweet from Kanye West’s account said he is “giving back to my fans”; the message from Bezos’ account said he had “decided to give back to my community”; and Musk’s account said “feeling greatful.”
Bezos, Musk, and Gates are among the 10 richest people in the world, based on Forbes’ calculations. According to the Associated Press, the three men have a combined worth of $362 billion.
Twitter, in a statement, said the company was aware of the “security incident” and was investigating. The tweets sent by the hackers have since been deleted.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted several hours later that it was a “tough day for us at Twitter.”
“We all feel terrible this happened,” Dorsey added. “We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.”
A spokesperson for Bill Gates confirmed a tweet sent from his account was not sent by Gates himself. “This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing,” the spokesperson said.
Joe Biden’s campaign issued a similar statement, saying, “Twitter locked down the account immediately following the breach and removed the related tweet.”
Companies, including Apple and Uber, were apparently hacked as well. Following the incident, all of Apple’s tweets appeared to have been deleted.
There have been at least 363 transactions since the tweets were posted, according to tracking website blockchain.com. So far, the account has received more than $118,000.
Shortly after the incident, many verified users reported they could no longer tweet, including media companies. Verified accounts who attempted to tweet received an error message that read, “To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can’t complete this action right now.”
Twitter acknowledged that some users’ features may be disabled as it investigates: “You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident.”
About three hours later, Twitter Support said that “most accounts should we able to tweet again.”
“As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go,” they tweeted. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Unverified Twitter users used the massive hack to rise to the center of attention on the social media site.
Many users made fun of the situation, focusing on how verified accounts, or “blue checks,” were forced to retweet other accounts in order to post anything on their profiles.
The hack also prompted Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri to write a letter to Dorsey on Wednesday, saying that some of the impacted accounts “alleged to have been protected by Twitter’s two factor authentication.”
“I am concerned that this event may represent not merely a coordinated set of separate hacking incidents but rather a successful attack on the security of Twitter itself. As you know, millions of your users rely on your service not just to tweet publicly but also to communicate privately through your direct message service,” Hawley wrote. “A successful attack on your system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security.”
Hawley prompted Dorsey to immediately work with the Department of Justice and FBI on the matter, and urged Dorsey to respond to a list of questions, including if the attack threatened the security of President Trump’s account.