There have been quite a few disturbing stories over the years about fans hacking celebrities' accounts, often on the hunt for nude photos. But this month brings us the opposite. YouTube and Vine star Jack Johnson, 20, asked his millions of fans on Twitter to send them their passwords so he could "hack" their accounts.
Disturbingly, "in an hour, tens of thousands of fans complied," reports The New York Times.
He hashtagged the stunt #HackedByJohnson. Writes Mic:
When Jack J obtained a fan's password he would change their username to Jack and Jack and leave some… interesting videos.
In one, he does some somersaults. In another, he lies on the ground and praises the users' pinned tweet, "you have very wise words for your age, I can tell," he says.
While it "looks like another case of teenagers traipsing through a social media minefield, oblivious to the real-world consequences," writes Amanda Hess in The New York Times, she posits that instead the fans handing over their credentials are fully self-aware, and that "handing over their passwords to some strange, cute boy actually constitutes a minor act of youthful rebellion."
The #HackedByJohnson tactic breaks through the surface of social media and reaches that rare private space, the inside of the fan’s personal account. It’s the virtual equivalent of a boy climbing in through a girl’s bedroom window.
Johnson wasn't impressed by her write-up.
What's interesting to me about the stunt is its inversion of the nature of celebrity. Billions of tabloids have been sold over the decades because people are desperate to peer into the private lives of celebrities. In this experiment, Jack Johnson reverses that trend asking his fans to give up their privacy to him. That he would actually take advantage of their sacrifice to go through their private dms or photos is probably(?) unlikely, but the door has been opened.
Speaking of, kiddos, if you have given up your password in hopes of being #HackedByJohnson, please do go ahead and change that password now. Otherwise your account remains vulnerable to Johnson or, more alarmingly, to whomever hacks his account (which is now a total honeypot).
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kashmir Hill is the editor of Fusion's Real Future. She has hacked a stranger's smart home, lived on Bitcoin & paid a surprise visit to the NSA's Utah datacenter, all while trying to prove privacy isn't dead yet. Contact her at email@example.com. PGP: D934E5E9.