Burger King apologizes after Twitter hacking


| Zoom

(AP) - Somebody hacked Burger King's Twitter account on Monday, posting obscene messages and changing its profile picture to a McDonald's logo.

The tweets stopped after a little more than an hour, and Burger King said it had reached out to Twitter to suspend the account. A Twitter spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone message left on Monday.

Late Monday, Burger King tweeted: "Interesting day here at BURGER KING, but we're back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!"

Burger King, which usually tweets several times a week, typically does so to promote sales on chicken sandwiches, or to ask questions such as how many bites it takes to eat a chicken nugget.

But just after noon EST on Monday, someone tweeted via Burger King's account, "We just got sold to McDonalds!" They also changed the icon to rival McDonald Corp.'s golden arches and the account's background picture to McDonald's new Fish McBites.

About 55 tweets and retweets followed over the next hour and a quarter, including some that contained racial epithets, references to drug use and obscenities. The account tweeted: "if I catch you at a wendys, we're fightin!"

Monday's appropriation of Burger King's Twitter account was a relatively mild example of cybersecurity problems, which are causing increasing concern in Washington and for industry. Media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have all said this year that their computer systems were breached, while several NBC websites were briefly hacked in November. White House officials and some lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would make it easier for the government and industry to share information on how to defend against hacking.

Burger King didn't know who hacked the account, and no other social media accounts were affected, said Bryson Thornton, a spokesman for Miami-based Burger King Worldwide Inc. Its social media team and an outside agency manage the Twitter account, but Thornton declined to say how many people knew the account's password. Late Monday, Thornton issued an apology to the company's Twitter followers.

"Earlier today, our official BK Twitter Account was compromised by unauthorized users," Thornton said in a statement. "Upon learning of this incident, our social media teams immediately began working with Twitter security administrators to suspend the compromised account until we could re-establish our brand's official Twitter page. We apologize to our loyal fans and followers, whom might have received unauthorized tweets from our account. We are pleased to announce that the account is now active again."

Twitter acknowledged on Feb. 1 that cyber attackers may have stolen user names and passwords of 250,000 users. It said at the time that it notified users of the breach.

Competitors were sympathetic.

McDonald's responded on Twitter that it empathized with its Burger King counterparts. "Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."

"My real life nightmare is playing out" on Burger King's twitter feed, wrote Wendy's social media worker Amy Rose Brown.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Heroic Help
    New teacher confronted the teen who opened fire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School

  • Week In Photos
    Real-life political leader Darth Vader & more top photos from around the world this week
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Listen to the show
Hear GeekWire on KIRO Radio
Join Todd Bishop and John Cook weekends on KIRO Radio to talk Seattle technology.

Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.