Three Labrador politicians had their Facebook accounts hacked last weekend. Labrador Member of Parliament Yvonne Jones and provincial ministers and Labrador Members of the House of Assembly Lisa Dempster and Graham Letto were the victims of an individual or individuals who impersonated them after gaining access to their accounts.
Dempster, the MHA for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair and Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, told the Labradorian that on March 3 she accepted a large number of new friends on Facebook and woke up the next morning with a number of emails from various people.
“They told me around 5 a.m. they started getting messages from me that started with ‘Hi, how are you?’ and then it moved on into further conversations,” she said. She said the people who engaged in conversations with the person who had logged in to her account were told she was in Charlottetown and was making them aware of a new government program they could access for a small fee.
Graham Letto, MHA for Labrador West and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment, told a similar story when contacted about the hack. He was hacked on March 2 and similar messages were sent to many of his Facebook friends, telling them that for a small fee they could get access to government funding.
He said as politicians they depend on social media as one of the main means of communication with constituents. He uses Facebook and Twitter a lot to relay information to citizens, he said, and if security gets breached it’s a reason to pause and think about how this can be fixed.
“Dealing with trolls and people online who attack you is one thing but when somebody goes in and hacks you and sends information out then that’s a whole different ball game,” Letto said.
Letto said it was very invasive and both he and Dempster contacted the provincial government department that handles Internet security. They have since enhanced the security on their accounts.
“Its pretty sad. We all work on our phones every day and we’re just one little keypad hit from someone gaining access,” Dempster said. “I never really felt the vulnerability myself until I woke up and saw that. It’s a terrible feeling.”
Federal politician also hacked
Labrador MP Yvonne Jones told the Labradorian she was hacked on March 4. Someone also hacked into her Facebook account and set up a secondary Messenger account, using it to contact people on her friends list.
“We contacted Facebook and reported it as soon as we found out,” she said. “We haven’t had a reply yet but we did report it to them.”
The messages sent to Jones’ contacts were initially conversational in tone, she said, but it quickly became obvious to most people who conversed with the fake account that the responses appeared to be automated. Jones said the messages told people there was news about a new government program and urged them to click on a link that was provided.
“Whatever or whoever it is, I’m not sure if they’re targeting politicians or everyone but getting messages from me about government things isn’t unusual,” she said. “It’s believable.”
At this point she believes her account is now secure but she isn’t certain so advises anyone who gets a message from her to be cautious until she is more confident its resolved.
Jones said the invasion of privacy is disconcerting and not something she’s experienced before in her political career. The potential damage from it is also concerning, she said.
“There are a lot of controversial issues out there and they could express views that aren’t yours, she said. “It’s very unnerving.”