Tech Transformers

Hundreds of Twitter accounts including Bieber and Forbes hacked, calling Germany, Netherlands 'nazi'

Hundreds of Twitter accounts from media outlets to celebrities including popstar Justin Bieber, were hacked Wednesday, branded with the Turkish flag and messages being sent out in Turkish.


One tweet appears to show a swastika – a symbol adopted by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. There were also two hashtags, which translated mean Nazi Germany and Nazi Holland. The tweet appears to be in favor of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Tweets showed that a large number of Twitter accounts were hacked with the same message being posted. This included Forbes, World Meteorological Organization, bitcoin wallet Blockchain, Germany soccer club Borussia Dortmund, Justin Bieber's Japanese account, and the U.K. Department of Health.



Forbes was not immediately available for comment.

The tweet links to a video of Erdogan. It also mentions the date of April 16, which is when Turkey will hold a referendum seeking to give more power to the President.

There has been rising tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Last week Erdogan branded the Dutch government "Nazi remnants and fascists". A Turkish minister was blocked from visiting the country's consulate in Rotterdam. Erdogan responded by warning the Netherlands it would "pay the price" for its actions.

The war of words continued on Tuesday when Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told CNBC that Erdogan was "totally off the mark" when he compared the Dutch to Nazis and had behaved in an "increasingly hysterical" manner.

Erdogan's Srebrenica accusation 'unacceptable': Dutch PM
Erdogan's Srebrenica accusation 'unacceptable': Dutch PM

Many of the accounts that were hacked have seemed to have taken back control from hackers. A number of Twitter users are claiming that a third party analytics app called Twitter Counter was compromised, which allowed hackers to send out loads of tweets from anyone using that software.

A Twitter Counter spokesperson said it was aware of the situation and had begun to investigate.

"Before any definite findings, we've already taken measures to contain such abuse of our users' accounts, assuming it is indeed done using our system – both blocking all ability to post tweets using our system and changing our Twitter app key," the spokesperson told CNBC by email.

"One thing is important to note – we do not store users' Twitter account credentials (passwords) nor credit card information. The abuse risk is limited to posting or following on Twitter and as I've mentioned - the first part is already contained."

A Twitter spokesperson said it was aware of "an issue" affecting a number of users and pointed to a page on its website giving advice on how to stay safe.

"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," the spokesperson told CNBC by email.