Twitter and the White House denied a Dutch security expert's claim that he hacked President Donald Trump's Twitter account just by correctly guessing the president's password. Victor Gevers told the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant and magazine Vrij Nederland he gained access to Trump's account by using the password "maga2020!" Vrij Nederland suggested Gevers might have been behind Trump's tweet linking to a satirical news site on Oct. 16.
"We've seen no evidence to corroborate this claim, including from the article published in the Netherlands today," a Twitter spokesperson told The Verge Thursday. "We proactively implemented account security measures for a designated group of high-profile, election-related Twitter accounts in the United States, including federal branches of government." White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere also said the story was "absolutely not true," but declined to elaborate on the security measures taken to protect Trump's social media accounts.
Vrij Nederland first reported in September that Gevers and two others gained access to Trump's Twitter account in October 2016. Now, the magazine reports that Gervers gained access to Trump's account again after running a security test. He claimed Trump did not have two-factor authentication enabled, as Twitter now suggests many users do to protect their accounts. Gevers claimed he guessed several passwords before eventually finding the "right" one.
Gevers could not confirm or deny being behind Trump's Oct. 16 tweet that included a link to The Babylon Bee, a satirical news site. If Trump did send the tweet, "Trump will need to either admit to never having read the Babylon Bee article and posting this bulls— tweet, OR he will need to acknowledge that someone else posted the tweet," Gevers told Vrij Nederland.
In the Babylon Bee tweet, Trump included a link to an article about Twitter going down moments before Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's dueling town halls on Oct. 15. The Babylon Bee joked that Twitter shut down to "slow spread of negative Biden news." (This is not true. Twitter said the outage was caused by a "system change initiated earlier [than] planned, affecting most of our servers.") However, Trump later sent a follow-up clarifying that the "Big T" he referenced in the initial tweet was a reference to "Big Tech." Vrij Nederland did not note Trump's follow-up. The Babylon Bee tweet has also not been deleted.
Gevers is the co-founder of the nonprofit GDI Foundation. He claimed he tried to contact Trump about his Twitter account's vulnerability. De Volkskrant reported that the Secret Service reached out to Gevers, but a spokesperson for the agency would not comment. Gevers told The Verge reached out to Twitter as well, but with "zero luck."