Twitter's public image has taken a beating the last few weeks after a series of high-profile attacks have given the impression the service has some security problems to address — and now an incident involving Justin Bieber has some wondering if the same thing has happened again. Earlier this evening, all of the tweets on Justin Bieber's profile simply vanished. While his profile page states that he's tweeted 17,765 times, none of them are visible.
Twitter user @ye4hbruh has since claimed responsibility for hacking Bieber's account — though no information on Bieber's profile itself has been changed at this time. It's also unclear how a would-be hacker would have made Bieber's tweets disappear without altering the overall count in the process. Other are speculating that Bieber's account was simply suspended, for reasons unknown — though there's no indication on the page that this is the case either. Some of his tweets from earlier in the day have begun to sporadically reappear on a one-by-one basis for some users, only to disappear again.
Suspension, hacking, or something else?
The incident is happening just days after both Burger King and Jeep had their official Twitter accounts hacked, resulting in a public relations black eye for a company that just weeks earlier had disclosed that as many as 250,000 user accounts could have been compromised due to a hacking attack. MTV and BET staged fake hackings of their own in response to the Burger King incident, which gained considerable traction before their subterfuge was revealed.
No matter what the reasoning behind the disappearing tweets in this case — and to be clear, the cause could range from another poorly-timed publicity stunt, to a glitch, to something more nefarious — the fact that Twitter users are quick to believe that such a high-profile user could be hacked indicates that Twitter may need to take steps beyond email security upgrades to repair some of the damage that has been done to its reputation in the last few weeks. We've reached out to Twitter for comment and will update you with additional information as it becomes available.
Update: As of 4:13AM ET Sunday morning, tweets have begun to return to the account. That said, things aren't back to normal just yet — the most recent tweet is from August 26, 2012 — but it appears the problem is slowly being corrected.