April 11, 2012 | by Phil Reese
NOM Facebook, blog hacked

The initial NOM post appeared around 6:00 a.m. April 11, and was followed by several comments that seemed to confirm the change of course. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

Around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, several sources reported that both the NOM Facebook page and Twitter account posted strange tweets that seemed to indicate a change of heart, but instead it seems the messages were the result of a lapse in security.

According to the Advocate, Elizabeth Ray of CRC Public Relations, who handles media inquiries for the National Organization for Marriage, confirmed to the Advocate Magazine that NOM’s Facebook, Twitter and blog were indeed hacked and that the group was working this morning to restore its online content, however at this time, they seem to have lost complete control over their Twitter account, @Nomtweets.

It was not clear at first whether or not the National Organization for Marriage actually posted the comment on their Facebook wall that caught the attention of prominent National Organization for Marriage watchdog Jeremy Hooper of the GoodAsYou.org blog. The post was made outside of normal business hours, which immediately raised questions as to its authenticity, but as of 10:00 a.m. the post was still live, showing the extent to which NOM had lost control of their own digital presence.

The Facebook post read “We sincerely apologize to anyone we have banned from this page in the past. That is why anyone who was ever banned for simply exercising their right to free speech is now welcome to once again engage with this page. We vow to work on how we address our opponents in the future.”

“The details of NOM’s overtaken web properties are for the organization, its potential in-house detractors, and its web security team to have out,” Hooper told the Blade Wednesday morning, before the hacking was confirmed.. “Personally, I’m focusing on the fact that I, after several years of being banned for doing nothing more than disagreeing with the NOM view, can participate in a fair and free discourse on the NOM Facebook wall. Everyone, on both sides of this so-called culture war deserves that.”

“If this is a hack and NOM responds by again banning commenters who don’t deserve to be banned? To me, that will be lock-solid proof of the [organization's] desire to host a monologue, not a conversation,” Hooper concluded.

The Facebook post, which has already generated over one hundred comments, most quite supportive of the move, was joined by a similar Twitter postings.

NOM's Twitter account showed similar activity, indicating an actual change of heart, or a rogue employee. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

After posting additional tweets that confirmed the errant messages did not originate from the organization’s leadership, the Twitter account seemed to go completely offline. However, before 10:00 a.m. the Twitter account reappeared, wiped completely clean of NOM’s old content, and began tweeting pro-gay messages. Apparently the hackers deleted the account, and an industrious LGBT activist was able to secure control over the username before NOM could regain control.

"We were embarrassed by the truth of our racial wedge strategies being made public." (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

Though NOM is now blaming these actions on an industrious hacker, some have wondered aloud in the blogosphere whether they could be the result of another staff defector. In April 2011, Louis Marinelli, who guided NOM’s social media presence to that point, abruptly turned on the organization and deleted its Twitter and Facebook presence in the process. He later came forward to profess he’d lost faith in the organization and that — after meeting and having real conversations with real same-sex couples — had come to support same-sex marriage.

At just 7:51 a.m. A new post to the NOM blog was pushed live, attributed to Brian Brown, that implied NOM was showing contrition, and making a shift in the tenor of public discourse.

“Friends of marriage,

“In the last couple of weeks you’ve heard some pretty bad things about this organization. I must admit that we were angered when our in house documents were released but we’ve since had time to reflect on the strategies we’ve employed to divide Americans against each other on the issue of marriage. Truth be told, marriage is about bringing people together, not pushing them apart and that’s exactly what this organization has been about over the past few years.

“Aside from that on an unrelated matter, we’ve stifled free speech on our social media online properties. We’re rectifying that this morning by removing the bans on the hundreds and hundreds of our opponents our staff imposed. We want to encourage an open and fair discussion about marriage and that can only happen if we welcome our outspoken opponents back into the dialogue.

“We apologize for our transgressions. We’re turning over a new leaf with constitutional and civil rights as our primary focus going forward. We hope you will stand with us as we turn things around for the better.”

"We've banned so many, we're working on unbanning them all but it is a time-consuming process." (Screen Shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

NOM’S blog site was soon replaced with a message reading “down for maintenance” after the uncharacteristic post was discovered. This more clearly indicated the post was the result of a hacker or rogue employee, rather than a change is course, however, whether or not this was a defector or someone from outside of the organization still remains to be seen.

In addition to the Facebook post, the blog posting and the Tweet, the hackers of the Facebook page also left several comments on the original post that seemed to apologize for NOM’s race-baiting strategies discovered in the pages of court documents made public by the Human Rights Campaign last month.

“We were embarrassed by the truth of our racial wedge strategies being made public,” read one comment. “So this is a gesture of our good faith to turn things around.”

Jeremy Hooper's comment. (Screen shot courtesy Jeremy Hooper)

“We’ve banned so many, we’re working on unbanning them all but it is a time-consuming process,” read another post several minutes later.

After his Facebook commenting ability was restored on the NOM fan page, Jeremy Hooper was quick to add to the voices on the post, though he was skeptical that this would be a permanent change.

“I’ve never once left a disrespectful comment, yet have been banned for years now (with screen cap proof of the unreasonable banning),” Hooper wrote. “Nice to be back, however temporary.”

The @NOMtweets Twitter account seems to continue to be in the control of the hackers, and continues to push pro-gay messages. No word as to whether or not NOM has found a new home on Twitter.

Originally published 8:05 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

 

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