Salem State hack leaves racist language on Twitter account

Salem State University’s Twitter account was hacked Friday night and temporarily taken over by “unknown miscreant(s)” who posted racist language on the eve of the university’s commencement day, according to campus police.

The tweets, which started around 11:30 p.m., included attacks on immigrants and criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement along with praise for President Donald Trump.

“We’re investigating right now to learn more about what happened, who was responsible, and what security measures we can take in the future,” said Salem State spokeswoman Nicole Giambusso.

Giambusso said that while the university had security in place already, cyberattacks like this are “incredibly sophisticated.”


The university regained control of the account and tweeted an apology at 12:23 a.m. Saturday. The posts during the hack have been deleted, but screenshots taken by other Twitter users are still in circulation on the social media site.

“Trump has done nothing but great things for our country during his presidency and will fix all the wrong that [slur] president did,” one tweet read. Others included references to “immigrant thieves” and called the Black Lives Matter movement “unnecessary.”

At 7:54 a.m. Saturday, university president Patricia Maguire Meservey sent out an e-mail to the Salem State University community, stating that the incident was “not acceptable” and the school was investigating.

“It is very important to note that none of those malicious posts reflect the viewpoints of Salem State University,” Meservey wrote. “We have done great work in the area of social justice and will continue to do so until incidents such as this no longer occur.”

The hack occurred the night before the university’s commencement, where speakers include Governor Charlie Baker, Former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, and Dr. Antonia Novello, the first female and first Hispanic surgeon general of the United States. Both Meservey and Giambusso stressed the importance of coming together in spite of the attack.


“It is terribly unfortunate, and while we’re investigating and looking at ways to strengthen our security measures, we’re not going to let this take away from our attention to the 1,400 students who are graduating today,” Giambusso said. “They’ve worked very hard to get where they are. Their families have worked hard. This is their day.”

Rowan Walrath can be reached at rowan.walrath@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @rswalrath.