The U.S. Strategic Command is tasked with the safekeeping of America’s nuclear weapons — a vital job with potentially apocalyptic consequences if something goes seriously wrong.
As such, the general public was confused and alarmed on Sunday when the Command’s Twitter account posted the mysterious message of “;l;;gmlxzssaw.” The account posted an apology roughly a half-hour later, indicating that the above message was nothing important.
Filed a FOIA request with U.S. Strategic Command to see if I could learn anything about their gibberish tweet yesterday.
Turns out their Twitter manager left his computer unattended, resulting in his “very young child” commandeering the keyboard. pic.twitter.com/KR07PCyCUM
— Mikael Thalen (@MikaelThalen) March 29, 2021
Both tweets have since been deleted.
Understandably, freelance journalist Mikael Thalen wanted some answers and filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Strategic Command to see what he could discover. Thalen received an answer a little more than four hours later — unprecedented efficiency by U.S. government standards.
According to Thalen’s tweet, the reason for the gibberish was that the Command’s “Twitter manager left his computer unattended, resulting in his ‘very young child’ commandeering the keyboard.”
That’s right. For a few minutes, the social media account for the organization with arguably the most powerful weapons in human history was controlled by a toddler.
We are all fortunate that it was just a toddler and it was just a social media account. Can you imagine if an enterprising 8-year-old with too many hours spent playing Call of Duty and too little self-control had access to sensitive information regarding our weapons infrastructure?
While no nuclear weapons can be launched over Twitter — the world would be dead many times over if that was the case — the specter of classified military information becoming public in an uncoordinated manner is terrifying.
Several commenters on Thalen’s tweet made similar observations, albeit jokingly:
At least the kid didn’t have the launch codes.
— Lauren Weinstein (@laurenweinstein) March 29, 2021
and a good job you can’t use twitter to launch… the world would have been obliterated by now.
— TechnoChimp (@technochimp) March 30, 2021
For a few fleeting moments, the official public voice of the most powerful military in the history of the world was controlled by a toddler.
— Green Fleet America (@fleet_green) March 29, 2021
Is this the same US Strategic Command that’s in charge of our nuclear arsenal? Good thing he didn’t have a teenager who just thought his dad (not mom, she knows better) was play World of Warcraft
— Eric Goldstein (@EGoldsMA) March 29, 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, government employees were affected just like everyone else. Working from home is a lot different than going to the office, and many people had to learn on the fly how to separate their work and their personal life within the confines of their home.
But, there is a big difference between your toddler running in on a marketing meeting for a small consulting firm and your toddler commandeering the social media account for the U.S. agency that controls nukes.
Parents who control vital government data must keep a closer eye on their children than most, and the argument can be made that government employees — especially those working in the upper echelons thereof — should not be working from home at this point.
Otherwise, our information could become far less secure, and that will keep nobody’s family safe.
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