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A Definitive And Important Timeline Of Politicians Having Their Social Media Accounts Hacked

Why is nothing being done about this concerning trend?

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1. February 2013: Labour councillor Debbie Harvey - By me: Newport Cllr Debbie Harvey says her Twitter was hacked when it said she wanted to rip a cllr's head off

Debbie Harvey, a Labour councillor in Newport, told the South Wales Argus that her Twitter account had been hacked after a tweet appeared on her feed claiming she wanted to rip a rival councillor's head off.

"I've already had contact from Twitter saying the account has been breached," she told the paper. "That's why my account was blocked. If I have got something to say I say it. I don't tweet it."

2. May 2013: UKIP councillors Alan Jesson and Chris Pain

In May 2013 a Facebook comment appeared on the page of Chris Pain, then a UKIP councillor in Lincolnshire, calling illegal immigrants "sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-f******, ragheads". Pain claimed his account had been hacked. Another UKIP councillor, Alan Jesson, was accused of homophobic and racist comments. He said his account had been "infiltrated".

The men would later leave UKIP and join a breakaway political group.

In June 2014, Robert Halfon MP deleted a tweet from 2012 expressing his sadness over the death of Jimmy Savile.

DT @halfon4harlowMP: Sad news: Jimmy Savile dead: Jim'll Fix It presenter dies at home aged 84 | M...


Halfon would later say that he was hacked.

@deletedbyMPs My Twitter account got hacked, I deleted this tweet as I consider it v offensive

Some expressed scepticism.

.@halfon4harlowMP @deletedbyMPs it got hacked 2 years ago to tweet that and now you suddenly delete it? Really?

Explosive news out of my old home town Harlow as their MP @halfon4harlowmp is targeted by TIME-TRAVELLING HACKERS:

Others suggested the police should investigate.

.@ed_son I think the police should investigate. Hacking an MP's account is really serious.


And also checked with a legal professor what should happen next.

Sure our MPs have some form of protection in law from people hacking their social media accounts. Can you help @lilianedwards ?

@loveandgarbage what's the original story? Am on train. Can't see why CMA wldnt apply.

I have checked with a Professor of IT law @halfon4harlowMP and if your account was hacked it's an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.

No further action was taken.

4. May 2014: Labour councillor Mark Cherry

Banbury Labour Party

In May 2014 a tweet appeared on the Twitter account of Mark Cherry, a councillor in Banbury, that compared Conservative disabled housing policy to Nazi concentration camps. "I was horrified when I saw it," he told the BBC. "I've had my email broken into and my account hacked before. There is an investigation and I'll be able to give my side of the story. I know I'm innocent."

He was suspended from the party and reinstated in August.


5. November 2014: Karl McCartney MP.

In November 2014, Lincolnshire MP Karl McCartney said he would be writing to Twitter because his account had been hacked. His announcement came after Labour rival Lucy Rigby pointed out that his account had favourited a pornographic image.

Labour MP John Mann announced in December that he had written to police asking for an investigation into who favourited the tweet, but Lincolnshire police said there was no formal investigation.

Took time 2 reaccess @twitter following security changes.Followers know I tweet or retweet & don't use fav button.Thx to all who notified me

6. December 2014: Vernon Coaker MP

Leon Neal / Getty Images

This incident apparently wasn't actually a hacking. In December 2014, Labour MP Vernon Coaker said he "hadn't a clue" how his account had ended up favouriting a tweet that had images of topless female models.

A spokesperson for the MP told the BBC: "Vernon hadn't a clue how it happened. It's a bit embarrassing and unfortunate. I don't believe we were hacked – it was just one of those things."

8. April 2015: UKIP councillor Derek Tanswell / Via

In April 2015, this image of a UKIP leaflet distributed in Frome, Somerset, which had been corrected by an English teacher, went viral.

It was was distributed on behalf of UKIP councillors Sharon Snook and Derek Tanswell.

Tanswell told ITV News: "It's the Liberal Democrats who are doing it all. They've hacked into my emails, they've basically got hold my stuff, they are producing it, they are sending it out, they are doing everything they can."

9. April 2015: UKIP councillor Alan Harris

Facebook: alan.harris.5203

Earlier this month, campaigning group Hope Not Hate posted screenshots in which Harris, UKIP's prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, described a bacon sandwich as "a piece of English heritage the fucking Muslims don't want" and said "why cant i say in my own bloody country black is still a colour and gay are still queers."

He subsequently told The Independent: "I’m absolutely disgusted. My account has been hacked – again. You know what Facebook is like. I wouldn’t say anything about gay people because I have a gay son. I’ve got lots of Asian friends. I never said any of this."

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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