Beware offers of masks and toilet paper for sale on Twitter.
One poorly written offer links to a bare-bones site that probably isn’t really selling anything.
Twitter was abuzz Tuesday with many people claiming their accounts were hacked with this seemingly fake, “Wearing mask make you away from COVID-19” tweet. It featured a photo of a model in a mask and a link to the Masks2U website. Most of the public tweets were from people with a handful of followers and looked to be the work of bots.
Todd Feathers, a New York-based technology journalist, says his account was hacked with the face masks offer Tuesday, with direct messages sent to his 1,700 followers. “It’s not the way I wanted to start the workday,” he says.
He started hearing from dozens of people that they had received a DM from him offering masks for sale. In response, he reported it to Twitter and changed the password to his account. His account is now back to normal, he says.
A Twitter user named “Stephanon” posted a warning on her Twitter feed after she got a direct message from someone with the link. “I didn’t click it because of the other DM link scams that have gone around and asked them if they sent it. They said no, so I assume it’s a hack/virus that sends this.”
Vice reported other Twitter users getting hacked in the same way.
But in a statement, Twitter says it isn’t seeing “large-scale coordinated platform manipulation” involving COVID-19. “As is standard, we will remove any pockets of smaller coordinated attempts to distort or inorganically influence the conversation,” the company said in a statement. “Additionally, we’re continuing to review and require the removal of Tweets that do not follow the Twitter Rules – half of which we catch before they’re ever reported to us.”
However, Twitter adds that it will halt any attempt by advertisers to opportunistically use the COVID-19 outbreak to target inappropriate ads, which this mask operation is clearly doing.
USA TODAY passed on several of the seemingly phony tweets to Twitter and asked the company why they weren’t taken down. As of this article’s publication, the company hadn’t yet responded.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter