Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

That’s what happened yesterday to the Qatar News Agency (QNA), the official Qatari press agency, run by the Ministry of Information, as revealed in a number of reports, among which one from the Belgian French-language public channel RTBF:

Pirated by “an unknown entity” – who could it have been? Iran? North Korea? (The latter have been acting up quite a bit lately!) In any case, it was quite an impressive job, in that the QNA was hacked pretty much across the board: Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

An achievement like that at least offers one the opportunity to have a little fun. As a somewhat fuller EN-language report on the incident revealed, the hack also reached the QNA TV channel, resulting in the “chyron” of text at the bottom of the nightly newscast reproducing various non-kosher messages, such as that Hamas is “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and that there are tensions between the US and the Qatari governments. One should be able to think of even more humorous applications: how about a tweet from the QNA reading “Pardon, delivery-man wondering where to take that case of Johnny Walker Sheikh al-Thani ordered ?” . . . and the like.

The reality, of course, is that such hacks lead to nothing but trouble. Those chyron-statements may raise a chuckle, but they definitely caused red faces among Qatari diplomats. And someone was definitely trying to stir up trouble by messing with the QNA Twitter-feed – but that seems to be exclusively in Arabic.

Translation: The foreign minister confirms a conspiracy by Saudi, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait to smear the reputation of Qatar.

For those with long-enough memories, this episode will recall that time back in 2011 when hackers took over the FoxNews Twitter account and posted six tweets claiming President Obama had been assassinated. That definitely caused some turmoil, for a short while, on the financial markets. Must do better, QNA!

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