The US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) has ended the mystery over an ominously cryptic Twitter post that some feared was a nuclear launch code, explaining that a small child unknowingly sent the meaningless message.
It turns out that STRATCOM’s Twitter manager was working remotely on Sunday and stepped away from his computer, leaving the social media account open and unattended, the command told Daily Dot reporter Mikael Thalen on Monday.
The manager’s “very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and, unfortunately and unknowingly, posted the tweet,” STRATCOM said.
Filed a FOIA request with U.S. Strategic Command to see if I could learn anything about their gibberish tweet yesterday.
Turns out their Twitter manager left his computer unattended, resulting in his "very young child" commandeering the keyboard. pic.twitter.com/KR07PCyCUM
— Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen) March 29, 2021
Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, i.e., no hacking of our Twitter account. The post was discovered and notice to delete it occurred telephonically.
The explanation at least provided ironic comic relief from the purportedly high-security organization that oversees the US nuclear arsenal – but not before setting off panic and apocalyptic speculation. After the accidental message, “;l;;gmlxzssaw,” was discovered about 30 minutes later, STRATCOM deleted it and asked followers to disregard the message.
US Strategic Command just tweeted this 😬😬😬 pic.twitter.com/2vR465AAUl
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 28, 2021
By that time, however, the post had been retweeted thousands of times and spurred much speculation – ranging from a compromised Twitter password to an imminent nuclear Armageddon. It didn’t help, either, that STRATCOM didn’t disclose what happened until the following day, after Thalen submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that forced a response.
Also on rt.com
Some speculation over the source of the tweet was less sinister, including a popular theory that a cat was involved. STRATCOM continued to be the butt of jokes after setting the record straight. UK hacker Marc Rogers asked, “So you’re saying hacking STRATCOM’s Twitter is child’s play?” Systems analyst Lauren Weinstein observed, “At least the kid didn’t have the launch codes.”
Who knew they had cats covering coffee breaks? pic.twitter.com/rM5pfyxduH
— Ronovan Writes (@RonovanWrites) March 29, 2021
So you’re saying hacking Stratcom’s twitter is child’s play?
— Marc Rogers (@marcwrogers) March 30, 2021
At least the kid didn't have the launch codes.
— Lauren Weinstein (@laurenweinstein) March 29, 2021
Reuters reporter Brad Heath found humor in the stilted language in STRATCOM’s explanation: “‘Notice to delete it occurred telephonically’ is a very good euphemism for the boss yelling at you.”
"notice to delete it occurred telephonically" is a very good euphemism for the boss yelling at you.
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) March 29, 2021
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