Westboro Baptist Twitter account hacked, used to support Newtown victims

Summary:The spokesperson for Westboro Baptist Church has had her Twitter account hacked and turned around to support the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

Yesterday, Anonymous vowed to renew its campaign against Westboro Baptist after its church's spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper announced that the church would be picketing the funerals of the shooting's victims.

Overnight, Shirley Phelps-Roper had her Twitter account hacked, its profile background changed to a message to "Pray for Newtown", and the account itself used to re-tweet messages supporting the hacking and the promotion of a petition to recognise Westboro Baptist as a hate group. As of this morning, the petition has attracted over 144,000 signatures.

Although Shirley Phelps-Roper's Twitter account now claims to be owned by UGNazi hacker @CosmoTheGod, 15-year-old Cosmo was arrested, sentenced, and placed on probation earlier this year, according to Wired.

It appears unlikely that Cosmo is actually behind the hack. While on probation, Cosmo is only allowed to use the internet for educational purposes, only under direct supervision, and with the permission of his parole officer.

Violation of these conditions could land Cosmo with a three-year prison term.

Whoever the hacker is behind Cosmo's account, they are not necessarily alone. Together with Anonymous' attack, self-declared "hacktivist for good," @th3j35t3r has begun targeting any remaining websites associated with Westboro Baptist and has posted his target list on Pastebin.

Jester normally targets those believed to be terrorist organisations and considers himself at times to be an enemy of Anonymous, due to his claims of it possibly being linked to terrorist activity. For Westboro Baptist's actions, however, he has agreed to work alongside them.

Westboro Baptist still appears to be going ahead with their picketing, with Megan/Margie Phelps-Roper appearing on the David Pakman Show to discuss Westboro Baptist's motivation.

Margie Phelps-Roper refused to acknowledge the threats made by Anonymous, telling Pakman that "Anonymous is irrelevant," and reiterating her message from last year that they are cowards.

Pakman has since attempted to bargain an agreement to provide Westboro Baptist with a 30 minute, uninterrupted airtime slot and republication of a YouTube video in return for not picketing the funerals. Pakman is aware that the decision is a controversial one and that he may be playing into the group's intention for more attention, however, he feels the benefits outweigh the costs.

"I know that my audience will not like this, but I feel like I would be doing something good," Pakman said.

"Stay away from the funerals of these few kids and you'll reach more people this way, which I don't like, I really don't, but I just want to see if we can broker some sort of agreement."

Westboro is currently discussing the proposal, but has not yet come back with its decision.

Topics: Security

About

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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