LOS ANGELES — As of 10:15 AM PST on Monday, January 22, PragerU’s social media team noticed that the organization’s Twitter account had been hacked by a group claiming to be “Turkish cyber army AYYILDIZ TIM.” The group also claimed that PragerU’s “[Direct Message] correspondence has been captured” and that “interesting information has been reached! Turks are everywhere!”
This comes only days after Project Veritas released undercover video featuring founder James O’Keefe with Twitter employees bragging about, amongst other things, how seemingly private direct messages, or DMs, are easily read by Twitter employees.
As a result of the attack, PragerU’s Twitter account was de-verified – losing the signature blue check mark that indicates a Twitter account is authentic – and remains de-verified at the time of this writing, with no word from Twitter as to when or how it might be reinstituted.
In fact, since the hack was first noticed, PragerU has been unsuccessful in any of its attempts to reach Twitter for an explanation as to what occurred and how the security of their account had been compromised. The account was back online by 9:36 PM PST when PragerU’s social media managers were able re-gain control of the account and alert their followers of what had happened.
On the same day, other prominent conservative accounts were also hacked by the same “Turkish” group including Sheriff Clarke and Sarah A. Carter. Other conservative accounts including Eric Bolling, Brit Hume, and Greta Van Susteren have also been recently targeted by the same group.
“We certainly don’t want to speculate in hearsay, but the timing of this hack by a so-called ‘Turkish Cyber Army’ is very suspicious, and it’s obviously an attack on conservatives,” says Marissa Streit, CEO of PragerU. “We are aware that other big conservative influencers were also hacked and it’s obviously a coordinated effort. Who is behind it? We’re not sure yet but we intend on finding out.”
“PragerU takes cyber security very seriously, so we’re trying to get in touch with Twitter representatives to find out how this happened in the first place,” adds Streit.
PragerU is not stranger to Silicon Valley’s “big-tech.” In October, PragerU filed a lawsuit against Google – owner of YouTube, the world’s largest video platform and the second most used search engine (behind only Google itself) – for demonetizing and restricting access to 15% of the organization’s video library. Many of PragerU’s videos remain restricted from the very audience it hopes to reach – young people. Many parents, schools, and public libraries use YouTube’s restricted mode to keep objectionable and inappropriate adult and sexually explicit content from children. PragerU’s lawsuit maintains that the organization’s videos have been restricted, not because they are explicit or inappropriate for children in any way, but rather because they promote conservative values.
Companies like Google/YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months as they have grown to near monopolies with respect to the publication and dissemination of information. The lawsuit has placed PragerU at the center of a heated, national debate about free speech on the internet and carries with it profound implications for both the future of the First Amendment and political debate in America.
MEDIA NOTE: PragerU Founder Dennis Prager and CEO Marissa Streit are available for comment. Inquiries can be made by emailing: MediaInquiries@theKcompany.co
PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager in 2011, is a not-for-profit organization that helps millions understand the values that shaped America and provides millions of Americans and people around the world with the intellectual ammunition they need to advocate for limited government, individual responsibility and economic freedom. In 2016 alone, PragerU’s videos received over 250 million views, a figure that will eclipse 625 million in 2017. PragerU is a resource for all who value liberty. It is a threat to all those who do not.