Update (6:32 pm): The profile picture has been restored while the header image has been removed.
Earlier: It appears that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s Twitter account has been hacked. The Lok Sabha Speaker’s official account, @loksabhaspeaker, however, is untouched. We have reached out to Birla’s office for more information.
Om Birla’s name on the verified handle, @ombirlakota, has been replaced with “Patron Bey”. The profile picture and the header image have also been changed. Twitter bio has been scrubbed clean. At the time of publishing, no unsavoury tweets had been sent out, nor had controversial tweets been retweeted or liked. Om Birla has 74.5 thousand followers and was following 278 accounts. Technology policy researcher, Prateek Waghre, first spotted this hack, and directed us to an archived version of the page, proving the account’s authenticity.
A reverse Google image search of the profile picture revealed that it is a generic image a white, blonde woman that has been used on a number of social media and microblogging websites. Similarly, a reverse Google image search of the header picture revealed that it is the back of a sweatshirt from the Defend-Paris brand.
This is not the first time an Indian politician’s Twitter account has been hacked. In 2018, accounts of Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, NJP National general Secretary Ram Madhav, actor and BJP supporter Anupam Kher, etc. had their accounts hacked by a “Pro-Pakistan” Turkish cyber ary ayyildiz tim. In 2016, official accounts of both Rahul Gandhi and Congress were hacked.