- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >President-elect Barack Obama’s account with the social networking site Twitter Inc.” href=”/themes/?Theme=Twitter+Inc.” >Twitter was hacked Monday along with those of Britney Spears and other celebrities.

An alert sent from Mr. Obama’s Twitter account at about 12:30 p.m. told the president-elect’s tens of thousands of Twitter followers that he had posted a message, the first since Nov. 5, the day after the election.

But the message - which asked, “What is your opinion on Barack Obama? Take the survey and possibly win $500 in free gas,” and linked to an odd multiple-choice survey - was an apparent fraud.

The message, Mr. Obama’s 264th Twitter update, had been removed within minutes from his account at http://twitter.com/BarackObama and the count had been set back to 262 updates.

Mr. Obama’s presidential transition team did not respond to requests for comment, and neither did Twitter.

His wasn’t the only Twitter account to be hacked. CNN’s Rick Sanchez announced on air that his account was hacked, and several reports said entertainer Britney Spears’ account also was altered.

Both of those had explicit drug- or sex-related items posted, while the message on Mr. Obama’s page was more mundane. It included a link that automatically redirected users to a quick multiple-choice survey.

That site calls itself “an independent rewards program for consumers.” Its parent company has been the subject of complaints to consumer protection and Internet monitoring sites. A message left on the company’s contact form on its Web site wasn’t returned.

The site appeared to be a “phishing” scam seeking e-mail addresses and other personal information such as birth dates and phone numbers from unaware users.

Twitter is a sort of mini-blog where users can give frequent, short updates on their goings-on. Mr. Obama used Twitter to keep in touch with supporters throughout the presidential campaign.