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Twitter hack fills high-profile accounts with Nazi references

Hackers litter Twitter with a message referring to diplomatic scuffles between Turkey and two European countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Twitter account.
Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

A wide-ranging hack filled high-profile Twitter accounts with Nazi slogans on Wednesday.

The hack sent out tweets from the accounts. The tweets depicted a swastika and hashtags referring to Germany and the Netherlands as Nazi, along with a video of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making a speech.

Erdogan has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with Germany and the Netherlands, in which he has accused the Dutch and Germans as acting like Nazis.

The hackers' tweets were sent ahead of Wednesday's national election in the Netherlands in which Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant Party for Freedom has a chance of becoming the biggest party in the parliament and potentially making Wilders the prime minister. The vote is considered a test of anti-immigrant and pro-nationalist sentiment across Europe.

A broad range of Twitter accounts appear to have been affected by the hack, from the European Parliament to Unicef, from actress Sarah Shahi to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Media outlets Forbes Magazine, BBC North America, Die Welt and Reuters Japan were also hit.

The hack exploited Twitter Counter, a third-party tool that some people and organizations use to measure Twitter stats. The Amsterdam-based company began tweeting about the hack several hours ago. One tweet noted that although the company accesses Twitter accounts, it doesn't store user passwords or credit card information.

Twitter also responded to the hacks.

"We are aware of an issue affecting a number of account holders this morning. Our teams are working at pace and taking direct action on this issue. We quickly located the source which was limited to a third party app. We removed its permissions immediately," Twitter said in a statement. The company also directed users to account-security advice.

First published March 15, 5:11 a.m. PT.
Update, 5:58 a.m. PT and 6:34 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Twitter and information about the election in the Netherlands.
Correction, 6:22 a.m. PT: Removes a reference to a Turkish vote.