Morton County Says Their Facebook Page Was Not Hacked, but Some Claim It Was

A screenshot purporting to show a message posted by Anonymous on the Morton County Sheriff's Department's Facebook page. Photo via Twitter

Last night I got quite a few messages from you readers about strange messages on the Morton County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.

Here is a screenshot sent in by one reader:

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I actually did not see this myself. Believe it or not, I have actually been trying to take some time off this holiday weekend. This evening I reached out to Morton County spokesman Rob Keller and he told me the Facebook page was not hacked. He said the messages people saw purporting to be from the Morton County account were from fakes set up in the absence of the official account.

He said the County has been overwhelmed trying to moderate the thousands and thousands of comments their page has been getting, which is plausible. Anyone who has visited the the page during the #NoDAPL protests could see that it was overrun. According to Keller they took it down until they could figure out some new settings for the page worked out.

But others – including Francis Materi, a reporter and editor of the Wishek Star – are insisting that the Facebook page really was hacked:

As further evidence for hacking there is this November 25 YouTube video purporting to be from Anonymous, but then we’ve seen videos claiming the involvement of Anonymous in #NoDAPL activities in the past. So who knows? How can you tell who is actually speaking on behalf of these bullies and who is just a poseur?

Keller tells me that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department page was verified, meaning that it would show up on Facebook with that little blue check mark next to it. He said there were some accounts set up spoofing the Morton County page, but that those accounts lacked the verification check mark.

The screenshot above, which I got from Materi, doesn’t show that check mark. But then, as I poke around Facebook on other verified page accounts, the check mark doesn’t show up on individual postings anyway.

So that tells us exactly nothing.

Could someone, having noticed that the old Morton County page was down, have created a new one in its place? I don’t think you can recycle an old Facebook page’s URL – this Facebook help document says it’s not possible – but what if someone created one that was similar enough to fool people?

The only time you see a Facebook URL is when you’re using a browser, and even then how many people even notice it?

Or maybe Morton County really was “hacked” by Anonymous or some other group. In which case, why would Morton County even want to hide that fact? Hacking Facebook accounts is only further evidence that #NoDAPL is a violent movement bent on advancing their political goals through violence and, in the instance of hacking, intimidation.

Morton County has confirmed that their officials have been targeted for doxing and credit card hacking. Their Facebook account getting hacked would only be further proof of their point, no?

Whatever happened, right now the URL for Morton County’s page is dead. Keller didn’t give me a timeline for when it might be back up.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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