WESTFIELD, NJ — The official Twitter account for the government entity managing the town’s special improvement district was commandeered for a time on Friday, the director of Downtown Westfield Corporation said.
Interim Executive Director Kathleen Miller Prunty in a statement Saturday said that “an unauthorized person” accessed the official Twitter account and posted a political statement as the government account.
“No employee of the DWC posted the message or was involved in instigating this activity,” Miller Prunty said. “We find it wholly inappropriate and despicable that someone hijacked the DWC social media platforms, which are meant for the sole purpose of promoting and supporting Downtown Westfield and the business community.”
The unauthorized Tweet, which has since been removed, was in reply to a tweet by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Westfield.
The Tweet from the Downtown Westfield Corporation stated the following: “Do you think we needed the same common sense approach when you were Gov Christie’s front man ? Just curious.”
Authorities are investigating the digital intrusion, said Miller Prunty, who asked that the public refrain from the online conversations that have ensued.
“The matter is being investigated, and we ask the public not to engage in the online discussions,” Miller Prunty said in her statement. “The DWC professional staff and dedicated volunteers who serve on the Board and Committees are committed to Downtown Westfield and are appalled by these activities.”
Requests for further information were not returned Saturday.
The incident follows the departure of the DWC’s head of digital and social media and digital marketing Oct. 11.
Miller Prunty has been leading agency charged with promoting business within the town’s special improvement district since longtime executive director since Sherry Cronin and the DWC parted ways in July.
It has come to our attention that there may have been unauthorized access to our Twitter account. Please be advised that no DWC employee posted nor removed the tweet in question. We are in touch with the proper authorities to investigate.— Downtown Westfield (@westfieldtoday) October 26, 2019
The DWC is not the first to have its Twitter account compromised. Twitter provides advice for users whose accounts have been compromised.
“Accounts may become compromised if you've entrusted your username and password to a malicious third-party application or website, if your Twitter account is vulnerable due to a weak password, if viruses or malware on your computer are collecting passwords, or if you're on a compromised network,” Twitter states.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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