This is a real story: What at first appeared to be a secret code released by the agency responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal was actually the gibberish ramblings of a kid who got a hold of a computer.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) tweeted out “;l;;gmlxzssaw” with no context or explanation (other than the obvious context of it being gibberish) leading the internet into a conspiracy-fueled frenzy, wondering what this seemingly random collection of letters might actually mean.
While most people used the confusing tweet to make jokes about the account accidentally leaking the nuclear codes, some actually seemed to believe that the incoherent tweet had a deeper, more nefarious meaning. The confusion reached an all-time high when the tweet was deleted and a follow-up was posted apologizing and telling everyone to “please disregard this post.” This lack of any real explanation, of course, only created more chaos.
Thankfully, we ended up getting an answer from Stratcom when the Daily Dot filed a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered the truth: the entire thing was masterminded by a little kid, who got control of the account when Stratcom’s social media manager left the computer while accidentally staying signed into the account, and their kid seems to accidentally take advantage of the situation.
“The Command’s Twitter manager, while in telework status, momentarily left the Command’s Twitter account open and unattended,” a statement from Stratcom explained. “His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet. Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, i.e., no hacking of our Twitter account. The post was discovered and notice to delete it occurred telephonically.”
So there you have it, one of the great cyber mysteries of our lifetime turned out to be nothing more than something every parent has experienced. Except, in most cases, kids who grab their mom or dad’s phone don’t suddenly have access to the Twitter account of a high-security agency.