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Burger King apologizes after Twitter hacking

By Candice Choi and Joshua Freed

AP Business Writers

LAST UPDATED: 05:08 a.m. HST, Feb 19, 2013

Somebody hacked Burger King's Twitter account on Monday, posting obscene messages and changing its profile picture to a McDonald's logo.

The tweets stopped after a little more than an hour, and Burger King said it had reached out to Twitter to suspend the account. A Twitter spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone message left on Monday.

Late Monday, Burger King tweeted: "Interesting day here at BURGER KING, but we're back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!"

Burger King, which usually tweets several times a week, typically does so to promote sales on chicken sandwiches, or to ask questions such as how many bites it takes to eat a chicken nugget.

But just after 7 a.m. Hawaii time on Monday, someone tweeted via Burger King's account, "We just got sold to McDonalds!" They also changed the icon to rival McDonald Corp.'s golden arches and the account's background picture to McDonald's new Fish McBites.

About 55 tweets and retweets followed over the next hour and a quarter, including some that contained racial epithets, references to drug use and obscenities. The account tweeted: "if I catch you at a wendys, we're fightin!"

Monday's appropriation of Burger King's Twitter account was a relatively mild example of cybersecurity problems, which are causing increasing concern in Washington and for industry. Media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have all said this year that their computer systems were breached, while several NBC websites were briefly hacked in November. White House officials and some lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would make it easier for the government and industry to share information on how to defend against hacking.

Burger King didn't know who hacked the account, and no other social media accounts were affected, said Bryson Thornton, a spokesman for Miami-based Burger King Worldwide Inc. Its social media team and an outside agency manage the Twitter account, but Thornton declined to say how many people knew the account's password. Late Monday, Thornton issued an apology to the company's Twitter followers.

"Earlier today, our official BK Twitter Account was compromised by unauthorized users," Thornton said in a statement. "Upon learning of this incident, our social media teams immediately began working with Twitter security administrators to suspend the compromised account until we could re-establish our brand's official Twitter page. We apologize to our loyal fans and followers, whom might have received unauthorized tweets from our account. We are pleased to announce that the account is now active again."

Twitter acknowledged on Feb. 1 that cyber attackers may have stolen user names and passwords of 250,000 users. It said at the time that it notified users of the breach.

Competitors were sympathetic.

McDonald's responded on Twitter that it empathized with its Burger King counterparts. "Rest assured, we had nothing to do with the hacking."

"My real life nightmare is playing out" on Burger King's twitter feed, wrote Wendy's social media worker Amy Rose Brown.

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Bdpapa wrote:
Maybe we'll get 25 cent whoppers!
on February 18,2013 | 08:31AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Speaking of Burger King, I saw they had a commercial on tv that advertised $1.29 for a Whopper Junior. The Hawaii franchiese aded 30 cents to the price and made them $1.59. 30 cents more? For what? I know that the cost of doing business is higher here in Hawai due to taxes and cost of utilities and rent/lease. But 30 cents? A small soft drink by the way costs $1.89! Across the street you can go to McDonalds and get a large size soft drink for a dollar. Their small chicken sandwich costs more than the much larger third pounder hamburger at McDonalds. If you go to the Bertetania Street burger King you will see who is winning the battle between Burger King and McDonalds. The Burger King usually has very little customer traffic while the McDonalds across the street is doing brisk business. Why? Because people are not dumb. They go to where the prices are more reasonable. So, no, I don't care about Burger King. I could'nt care less if they closed down. Their prices are ridiculous anyway.
on February 18,2013 | 11:05AM
aycma2000 wrote:
Hacker has a good idea about merging the 2 fast food chains.
on February 19,2013 | 07:37AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Not sure why Burger King is apologizing here.
on February 19,2013 | 08:14AM
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