Twitter account hacks are pretty common events, especially for targets that are high profile.
In January, for example, more than a dozen NFL teams temporarily lost control of their accounts. The group behind these breaches previously targeted the accounts of Marvel, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Netflix.
But while most of these hacks are very obviously what they seem, others can be more ambiguous. Last night, the Netflix Twitter account for the MENA region suddenly started behaving oddly. Down went the familiar ‘N’ logo, only to be replaced by pirate-themed artwork, a pinned tweet containing a GIF of a man rocking back and forth in his car, and a message suggesting a hack.
From here, things got even more bizarre. In a tweet around 45 mins later, the supposedly ‘hijacked’ account reached out to its 735,000 followers with a request for them to suggest movies available on BitTorrent.
Google’s attempt at translating falls short but the consensus is that the Arabic text reads “Give us movie recommendations we can torrent”.
Given that Netflix is part of Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition dedicated to taking down anything related to piracy, this tweet seemed to support the notion that the account had indeed been hacked.
So, this morning, with the pirate artwork removed and the Netflix logo reinstated, it was no surprise to read that Netflix MENA had regained control of the account after the earlier shenanigans.
“We apologize for the previous tweets,” the company said. “We returned to the account and the actor is being held accountable.”
Somewhat bizarrely, however, none of the earlier tweets posted by the ‘hacker’ were removed. In fact, the Netflix apology was accompanied by a hashtag relating to the hit satirical cartoon series ‘Masameer’ and Masameer: The Movie, which is available to stream…..exclusively on Netflix.
As seen in the tweet below, Netflix MENA also embedded a video featuring two of the characters in the show, one of whom (at least according to our horribly rudimentary Arabic skills) appears to be issuing a forced apology for what happened to the Twitter account yesterday.
نعتذر عن التغريدات الماضية، رجعنا الحساب والفاعل بيتحاسب. #فيلم_مسامير pic.twitter.com/T4WHN5WBQ0
— Netflix MENA (@NetflixMENA) March 19, 2020
We invite any Arabic speakers to write in with a (much) better translation to put us out of our misery but as far as we can tell, the apology read out by the character appears to blame sleep (perhaps a lack of) for the “unfortunate events” on Netflix’s Twitter account. There’s also a suggestion that the problems can be resolved “outside court”.
All things considered, this entire situation is pretty bizarre but if the idea was to draw attention to the new movie, that has been achieved. If it was really a hack, however, then the hacker has probably done Netflix a favor. That might explain why none of ‘his’ tweets have been deleted….
Update: Kind Arabic-speaking TorrentFreak reader ‘Ali’ has sent in the following explanation for the events and the video.
“The video in the tweet implies that Netflix is holding the characters hostage and has given them a statement to read, in which they state that they are sorry for the hack and to resolve the conflict out of court, they will give Netflix copy of the movie to show.”