With First Lady’s profile hacked, Brazilians pointed to X delay on acting

Brazil's First Lady Rosângela ‘Janja’ da Silva | Image: Claudio Kbene/Brazil's Presidency/Used under license

A hacker attack took over Brazil's First Lady Rosângela “Janja” da Silva's profile on X (formerly Twitter) last December 11. For over an hour, the individual or people behind it posted slanderous messages against Janja herself, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, and Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is in charge of investigations on bolsonarista groups.

Janja has often used her profile, with over 1.2 million followers and a blue check mark, to publish about government actions and her daily life with the president. The following morning after the hacking, the account was still up, but without any of the 3,446 posts being visible.

Three days later, a 17-year-old confessed to the federal police to be responsible for hacking the First Lady's X, LinkedIn, and email accounts, as reported by O Globo newspaper. He claimed to have found the information available in an online data leak.

According to news outlet G1, the blocking of the account followed a request made by the federal police, which leads the investigation of the case, and it will be deactivated as soon as it its data is preserved. The Attorney General's Office also demanded that X freeze the account and preserve all access data, direct messages, and IP addresses until the end of the investigation.

Recently, Meta — another social media giant — replied to the Brazilian Supreme Court that it could no longer provide a video posted by former president Jair Bolsonaro on Facebook, that was to be used in the investigations of the attacks on the Three Powers headquarters in Brasília last January. The video was recovered by the Federal Prosecution Office later.

Image: Screenshot from X

In an official statement, Brazil's Presidential Office repudiated the attack and said the Federal Police and X were contacted to take measures. ”We will not tolerate crimes, misogynistic speeches, hate, and intolerance on social media,” said the statement regarding the tone of the content shared by those responsible for the hacking.

Besides attacks on Lula and Supreme Court Justice Moraes, many messages had sexist and misogynistic words directed at Janja herself, as pointed out by X user @KriskaCarvalho:

The brat that hacked into Janja's account was an incel. Even rape he mentioned. It wasn't only a cyber crime, it was also violence against women. Most of the posts were misogynistic aggressions. No woman escapes the fascism and the hate that took over social media. Enough…

Another user, @Rafael_Parente, also commented on the sexist tone:

Janja's Twitter was hacked and from every 10 tweets, 9 were sexual offenses. It's impressive how one of the main far right features is hating on women.

Many users, especially journalists, also noted, however, the delay for X to adopt measures and take down the hacking while it was still going on:

For the past 40 minutes a hacker has been writing all sort of improper content on the account of the First Lady of Brazil and the profile is still up. Mr. @elonmusk fired everyone working on Twitter Brazil. What to expect from a company that replies to press requests via e-mail with a poop emoji?

I've contacted all executives that used to work for Twitter. No one is working with them anymore. X does not have a team in Brazil. The First Lady's profile will remain under the rules of the hacker-incel.

On December 19, Janja appeared in Lula's weekly broadcast ”Talk with the President,” criticized Elon Musk, saying he gained money while her account was under attack and that she was going to sue X.

”We live in a regulated society. Why would the internet be out of it?” she questioned. The First Lady and the President also discussed regulation on social media following the case.

A week before, Janja posted on Instagram — where she has 2.3 million followers — a comment about the hacker attack and calling the posts published ”sexist and criminal, typical of those who despise women, coexist in a society, democracy, and the law.” On December 17, she went back to posting on X:

Pensei muito sobre voltar ou não para essa rede social, não apenas por causa das agressões que aconteceram em meu perfil, mas principalmente por toda a demora dos administradores da rede X em agir, congelando meu perfil para que as agressões parassem de ser postadas e pudessem ser silenciadas. Minha equipe de redes agiu rapidamente mas o pesadelo se estendeu por uma hora e meia até o bloqueio. O transtorno e a burocracia continuaram para que a conta fosse recuperada e o relatório da plataforma fosse finalmente entregue para investigação da Policia Federal , o que aconteceu somente quatro dias depois dos crimes cometidos.

I thought a lot about coming back or not to these social media, not only because of the aggressions that took place in my profile, but mainly for the delay of those managing X to act, freezing my profile so the attacks would stop being posted and could be silenced. My social media team was quick, but the nightmare extended for over an hour and a half until the blocking. The disorder and bureaucracy continued in order to have the account reinstated and the platform report finally handed to the Federal Police investigation, which happened only four days after the crimes.

A sociologist, she is often criticized in Brazil for being outspoken about certain issues and for taking part in presidential official agendas.

She had been a Workers’ Party (PT) militant before beginning a relationship with Lula months before he was sent to prison in April 2018 under Operation Car Wash investigations.

This December 14, after the Federal Police carried search and seizure acts in some addresses of suspects, President Lula spoke about the story at a public event:

Do you know the hacker that invaded Janja's profile? A 17 year-old youngster spreading hate online. When will we react and form this youth so they won't reproduce violence against girls and women? We need to politicize the youth. We have to make this commitment stronger.

To a post commenting about the case, Musk commented, “It is not clear how someone guessing her email password is our responsibility.”

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