Bernie Sanders supporters who logged on to Reddit to check in with the Democratic presidential candidate ahead of the Iowa caucuses Monday found a surprise: in place of news, bright spinning animations. That's because the Sanders for President sub-Reddit, home to 164,000 Sanders fans, was briefly hacked Sunday night, and the pranksters responsible replaced pro-Sanders activism with cartoons.
Reddit, the community news website where anyone can post a link or join a discussion, has been one of the internet's most active gathering points for Sanders fans since the Vermont senator launched his presidential campaign in May. Much of that activity starts on Sanders for President forum, the sub-Reddit that's helped the campaign boost turnout at real-life rallies and helped raise more than $1 million for him last week. For four minutes on Sunday night, though, the sub-Reddit was awash in bright neon.
I think the Sanders subreddit got hacked? Right now it looks like this pic.twitter.com/5mNUb0OLx8
— Eli Watkins (@EliBWatkins) February 1, 2016
Forum moderators acted fast to restore everything back to normal, and told the Daily Dot Sunday the hack was “absolutely inconsequential.” The hackers told the Daily Dot they found one moderator's password in a data dump of a “a particular online streaming service” that was breached in 2013, though they would not offer more details. The password worked on the moderator's Reddit account, though, which enabled the hackers to modify the CSS code.
“I'm not sure I'd say that the sub-Reddit was 'hacked,' but an account was compromised momentarily,” Alex Stigler, a Sanders for President moderator, told the Daily Dot. “In that time, they were able to change the CSS such as to render the sub-Reddit unusable; however, as we keep backups of everything, the changes were reversed in a matter of minutes.”
Sanders appears to be in a dead heat with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as Iowans gather in caucuses Monday evening. He has called for single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, equal pay for women, paid family leave for employees, tax policy changes that would make large companies pay more and other changes meant to fix what he calls a rigged U.S. economy.