The change to the department’s bio page for Trump – which displayed the text ‘Donald J. Trump’s term ended on 2021-01-11 19:49:00’ – created an internet frenzy on Monday afternoon.
The vice president’s biography was similarly edited to state ‘Michael R. Pence’s term ended on 2021-01-11 19:44:22.’
The change came nine days before President-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn in.
Eventually both pages were removed around 3:50pm and simply threw up error messages reading: ‘We’re sorry, this site is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again in a few moments.’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has ordered an internal investigation into the matter with a focus on interns and employees leaving the State Department this week before the Biden administration takes over.
But it might not be easy to track down who was behind the hack given how many people have access to the content management system used for the State Department’s official website.
It’s a ‘closed system’ that is ‘nearly impossible to hack,’ said one of the diplomats. ‘It’s 100% not a hack,’ they said to BuzzFeed.