It played out like a modern day detective story: A vague clue inadvertently delivered through an off-hand remark…a series of people connected by name and activities…a false name derived from the target’s personal interests…but did it all add up?
In this case, it did. And it ended up being stranger than fiction.
This week the Twitterverse was abuzz with the best distraction we could have in the Trump era when Gizmodo posted: This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account
Comey being the director of the FBI and a key figure in the recent Clinton/Trump election as well as leading an investigation into Trump’s campaign team’s possible collusion with Russia to throw the election. But wait…that’s not even the mystery!
What’s captured in the Gizmodo article is how one intrepid reporter possibly (probably) uncovered the secret social media profiles of the Director of the FBI. It’s a really interesting look into how even with all of our settings locked in Private Mode, we can still be pretty easily unmasked if someone’s determined to find us.
The weak link is in our networks, meaning the people we follow and who follow us as well as the technology that enables it. Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg found her way into Comey’s life by way of the Director’s 22 year old son. Well…not directly. It was references to the younger Comey in other feeds that led the way.
That led me to this tweet from the Twitter account of the Kenyon College basketball team, on which the younger Comey played as an undergraduate. It showed Comey teaching basketball to some schoolkids, and @-mentioned the now-dead Twitter account “@twittafuzz.” That account, if you search through its mentions, appears to have been previously owned by Brien Comey—if you believe the folks on Twitter congratulating @twittafuzz for his dad’s ascension to the head of the FBI.
That tweet led to an Instagram photo, which contained a comment tagging the younger Comey, who is then associated through algorithms to a handful of other accounts, including one with an odd handle that caught the reporter’s eye.
Read the article for the whole story, which is a fascinating look into how we have created a false sense of privacy and security by employing weak tools. Sound familiar?
Oh, but my favorite part is a tweet in response to the story from the account uncovered.
And that is how you do it, folks.