Sweden’s largest party investigating messages sent during Twitter hack

Islamophobic and anti-immigrant tweets were sent in the early hours of Monday morning.

TOPSHOT - Prime minister and party leader of the Social democrat party Stefan Lofven addresses supporters at an election night party following general election results in Stockholm on September 9, 2018. (Photo by Jonas EKSTROMER / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP) / Sweden OUT
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Sweden’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) is investigating a hack of its Twitter account after over 20 offensive tweets were sent out from its account.

The now-deleted tweets were posted in the early hours of Monday morning before the party regained control of its account.

Some tweets focused on Swedish national affairs, with a claim Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was resigning and that cannabis had been made legal. These tweets were followed by more sinister and threatening messages with anti-immigrant and Islamophobic overtones.

Screenshots of the messages taken by a Swedish journalism professor showed a tweet which read “1 like = 1 dead Muslim”.

"We contacted the police immediately and are working with Twitter," a party spokesperson said.

"Attacks on political parties are attacks on free speech and democracy. We do everything we can to prevent these kind of intrusions,” they told the BBC.

The party also tweeted to let followers know the messages were not sent by its team, saying its account had been “hijacked”.

It would not speculate on the source of the hack, which also changed the profile photo of the party to one with a Bitcoin logo stamped over the top.

“Some of the world’s leading brands have been subject to similar breaches – from McDonald’s to Google – so it’s not simply a case of private individuals or smaller organisations falling foul of security lapses on their social media accounts," said Nick Giles, co-founder of PR firm Seven Hills.

"The advice from Twitter is to take action as soon as possible if updates are appearing that you did not post or approve, delete the offending tweets and update your settings."

Monday's Twitter and PR nightmare came just a day after the Social Democrat party narrowly secured a victory in the country’s parliamentary elections, winning 17.7 per cent of the vote, only 0.2 per cent more than the country’s far-right Finns party.

The left-wing SDP now has the difficult job of bringing together a coalition to pass legislation.