Twitter Hack Response Takes Out Weather Service Account During Tornado Scare | WGLT

Twitter Hack Response Takes Out Weather Service Account During Tornado Scare

Jul 15, 2020

UPDATED 6:45 a.m. | The National Weather Service's Central Illinois office appeared to lose access to its Twitter account Wednesday during several hours of severe weather.

Like many authoritative or official accounts, the @NWSLincolnIL account is verified—signified by that iconic blue check mark. It has over 17,000 followers.

Twitter temporarily restricted access to verified accounts Wednesday night following a large-scale and coordinated cryptocurrency hack. That unprecedented step came after the Twitter accounts of some of the richest and most famous people on the social media platform were attacked. The @NWSLincolnIL account itself was not hacked.

The @NWSLincolnIL account did not send any original tweets between 4:49 p.m. and 7:38 p.m., despite several severe weather watches and warnings being in effect. That included tornado watches and warnings in McLean County. Tornado sightings were reported between Gridley and Chenoa in northeastern McLean County, according to NWS storm reports.

Of course, the National Weather Service's Lincoln office shares urgent weather information on many other platforms other than Twitter. It continued to send out messages on its website and Facebook page, for example. NWS Lincoln was able to retweet messages, just not compose any of its own.

NWS Lincoln Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris Miller said he could not comment specifically on the Twitter outage "since we have no control over a national outage."

"However, what I can share is that our regional headquarters in Kansas City was on top of the situation, and advised us to incorporate a work around by retweeting our messages created by another NWS program (NWS Chat bot)," Miller said via email. "The main message we want people to understand about this outage is that it is extremely important for everyone to have MULTIPLE ways of receiving weather information. The best preparedness plans do NOT have a single point of failure."

The @NWSLincolnIL Twitter account resumed tweeting just after 7:30 p.m., as did other verified accounts.

"Looks like we are active again on Twitter," @NWSLincolnIL wrote at 7:48 p.m.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.