One of the best things about social media account hacking? Plausible deniability.
In the age of the Donald, there have been several instances of Twitter being used in the US as a platform for “goin’ rogue,” as the Sarah Palin-originated saying goes. The most high profile example is the National Park Service, which started pointedly and clinically tweeting out climate change science facts once Pres. Cheeto took office and deleted climate change from the White House website’s list of issues. It was quickly slapped with a directive to knock it off, but several individual parks throughout the US then took up the cause. When they too were told by the new boss to stop making so much sense, “alternative” accounts proliferated, like the AltNatParkService, purportedly run by disgruntled federal employees.
Other such accounts joined in, like Rogue NASA and the like. As NPR (America’s BBC equivalent, soon to be defunded, if the Trump budget is adopted) pointed out, there’s no real way of knowing if these are run by actual federal employees in an act of resistance, or if it’s just a fun, public-confusing phenomenon for anti-administration types to spend their free time on. Which means plausible deniability if anyone in the West Wing wants to start a witch hunt for the people supposedly running these accounts from within the belly of the beast.
In that spirit, it was great to see an official McDonald’s company Twitter account goin’ rogue on Thursday, tweeting directly at President Trump in no uncertain terms: “@RealDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.” Even better, the tweet was pinned to the top of the account.
It was since deleted, and the plausible deniability that we all knew was coming floated out into the public socialverse. In a statement, McDonald’s apologized for the tweet, and suggested it had been hacked.
“Based on our investigation, we have determined that our Twitter account was hacked by an external source. We took swift action to secure it, and we apologize this tweet was sent through our corporate McDonald’s account,” the statement read.
Did an employee at the burger empire mistakenly tweet something personal from the wrong account? Was it an intentional, defiant act of Fight the Power? Was McDonald’s actually hacked?
The Guardian points out that the tweet had been sent from Twitter web, “while every other tweet on the McDonald’s account had been sent using a social media management platform.” Good backup for the “hacked” theory. But then again—why would the attacker only send the one lone tweet, and then retreat? It seems more of an act of scrambled desperation, a protest tweet from within that was quickly thrown up in an opportunistic manner before the supervisor returned from his smoke break.
It SEEMS that way. But again—plausible deniability. Are there people working at Golden Arches HQ that are willing to do their small part to protest the chaos that is the Donald? We’ll likely never know. But if there are, they’ve just shown how social media—and the culture of hacking—can be manipulated to cover their tracks.
In any event, McDonalds may have curried favor with a whole new set of potential customers: Liberals.
As @ScottRenshaw tweeted, “Where were you when McDonalds became part of the Resistance?”