“We regret to inform our fans that Derek Jeter will miss the rest of the season with sexual reassignment surgery. He promises to come back stronger than ever in 2013 as Minnie Mantlez.”
That disturbing post greeted New York Yankees fans Thursday when they eyeballed their favorite team’s Facebook page.
They weren’t the only followers of Major League Baseball that found dubious posts from the managers of team pages on the social network.
“Just a reminder: tonight is FREE PITBULL NIGHT at Marlins Park,” announced a posting on the page for the Miami Marlins. “The first 10,000 fans ages 18 and under will receive a free rescued fighting Pitbull courtesy of the Dade County Animal Rescue League.”
San Diego Padres fans saw this bogus tidbit: “Just a note: though the handicapped are allowed to enjoy Padres games at Petco Park, their attendance is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.”
Other teams that had their pages hacked included the San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, and Chicago Cubs and White Sox. The site of the Yankees arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox, wasn’t hacked, although after the Rose Hose salvaged but two hits against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball Thursday night, one Hub sports commentator suggested the MLB page raider may have hacked the Bostonians lineup.
The defacement of the team pages was made easier because they’re all administered by a single authority: MLB Advanced Media.
“One possible scenario is that an MLB Advanced Media employee was sloppy with their password (maybe they weren’t using a hard-to-guess password, or maybe they were using a password that they had also been using elsewhere on the Internet), allowing a hacker to gain access and post the inappropriate content,” hypothesized Graham Cluley at the Sophos Naked Security blog.
Apparently the unauthorized administrative messages were quickly discovered and removed from the team sites. In a statement issued following the incidents, MLB said:
“For a brief moment today, a few MLB Club Facebook accounts were hacked and inappropriate material was briefly on display from those Clubs’ pages on Facebook. MLB Advanced Media oversees these Facebook pages on behalf of the Clubs and regrets this occurrence. We are working with Facebook, Major League Baseball Security and, where appropriate, legal authorities to determine the circumstances surrounding this situation.”
Hacking into the administrative accounts of high profile Facebook pages is nothing new. Probably one of the most notable—and embarrassing—hack occurred in January 2011, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page was compromised.