How an Online Attack ‘Brought Twitter to Its Knees’

Producer/Director John Pappas
Reporters Kate Conger and Nathaniel Popper

It seemed like an inside job.

Some of the world’s most famous and powerful people had been hacked on Twitter.

The accounts of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Joe Biden were compromised and taken over by unknown scammers looking to line their digital pockets with Bitcoin.

The stunning attack in July sent Twitter into lockdown and alarmed cybersecurity experts who feared the worst.

“This is too sophisticated for this to just be a Bitcoin scam,” said Nathaniel Popper, a finance and technology reporter for The New York Times. “All of this personal information about the most significant cultural, business and political figures had been penetrated.”

Who was behind this brazen breach of one of the most visible platforms on the internet, and how did they do it?

In a new documentary by The New York Times on FX and Hulu, Popper and Kate Conger, a Times technology reporter, track down some of the hackers who participated in the online scheme.

Interviews with these anonymous online outlaws reveal that the attack was not the work of a rogue Twitter employee, a hostile government or nefarious intelligence agency. The hack was hatched, they said, by a teenager from Florida who appears to have first developed an online playbook for ripping people off while immersed in the game Minecraft.

Watch in our new documentary how this disaffected teenager raised on video games and social media, and a group of young people whom he had never met in real life, now stand accused of bringing Twitter to its knees.

Watch on Friday, Nov. 20, at 10 p.m. on FX and streaming on Hulu.

Senior Editor Liz Day
Directors of Photography Jarred Alterman and Andreas Burgess
Video Editors Pierre Takal and Nathan Punwar
Associate Producer Salwa Shameem

“The New York Times Presents” is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.

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