FBI Chief's Secret Twitter Account Is Secret No More

Gizmodo's Ashley Feinberg appears to have found it with some sleuthing
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2017 11:22 AM CDT
Reporter Finds Comey's Secret Twitter Account (Probably)
FBI Director James Comey laughs while addressing the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner in Alexandria, Va.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Even the FBI chief struggles with online privacy. After James Comey mentioned during a speech that he had a secret Twitter account, Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo did some internet sleuthing and appears to have found it. Behold: https://twitter.com/projectexile7. It took her all of four hours. Oh, and she appears to have found his secret Instagram account, too. Feinberg lays out the breadcrumbs she followed: Comey mentioned during a speech that he had private Twitter and Instagram accounts, and he dropped an inadvertent clue: He said the Instagram account had nine followers. From there, Feinberg searched for social media accounts of friends and family and eventually found son Brien's Instagram account. (Telltale clue: Someone offered congratulations when his dad got the FBI post.) One of Brien's followers was Reinhold Niebuhr, with nine followers of his own.

Could it be? Feinberg discovered through a Google search that Comey wrote his senior thesis in college on theologian Niebuhr. From there, she searched Twitter user names that used Neibuhr and found the account believed to be Comey's. It has "Project Exile" in its handle, which is the name of a federal program Comey developed as a federal attorney. There are no bombshells to be had in the account itself, which follows 27 others, mostly reporters. It had only one follower when Feinberg found it—Benjamin Wittes of the Lawfare blog, who happens to be a personal friend of Comey's. The FBI politely declined comment. A blogger at Motherboard notes that Comey made several mistakes if he truly wanted to keep his accounts private, including using names that provided clues to his identity. "Compartmentation" is key, writes Joseph Cox. (More James Comey stories.)

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