Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



FBI Chief’s Secret Twitter Account Outed?

When Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey teased that he had joined the world of social media with secret Facebook and Twitter accounts, tech writer Ashley Feinberg took the dare.

When Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey teased that he had joined the world of social media with secret Facebook and Twitter accounts, tech writer Ashley Feinberg took the dare.

After four hours of FBI-level sleuthing, she was pretty sure she had the answer: On both he was using the name of US Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Embarrassing: He had only one Twitter follower.

All it took, Feinberg said on the Gizmodo website where she is a senior reporter, was for Comey to tell an audience of security professionals Wednesday night that he had very cautiously joined the social networking age to keep up with family.

“I care deeply about privacy, treasure it. I have an Instagram account with nine followers. Nobody is getting in. They’re all immediate relatives, and one daughter’s serious boyfriend,” Comey let slip.

Feinberg was piqued. “Who am I to say no to a challenge?” she wrote. She tracked down Comey’s family members, eventually discovering his son Brien’s Instagram account by way of a photo of him with an Instagram tag.

That led to a potential dead end: A protected account which she could not view.

But when she asked to be invited by Brien Comey to view his account, Instagram popped up with offers to follow other accounts that included Brien’s mother and a mysterious “Reinhold Niebuhr,” who had just nine followers.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

And a Google check easily showed that Niebuhr was the subject of James Comey’s 1982 university thesis.

The FBI chief, who carries the mammoth political burden of investigating the Trump administration’s suspected links to Russia as both political parties eye him suspiciously, unsurprisingly also had a protected account.

But from there to Twitter was easy. Feinberg found seven Niebuhrs there, but only one with secretive identity: @projectexile7. That was the name of a program to battle gun-related crime that Comey helped develop.

That account had no tweets in three years, and followed only 27 other accounts. But those were reporters who cover the FBI, and law enforcement-related accounts. And Donald Trump.

And the one follower was a prominent expert in national security law and a friend of Comey’s. Bingo.

So much for secrecy. The FBI had no comment late Thursday, but the Twitter-verse was convinced. Hours after Feinberg’s report, Comey had more than 8,000 followers. Pretty good for never tweeting.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybersecurity Funding

Los Gatos, Calif-based data protection and privacy firm Titaniam has raised $6 million seed funding from Refinery Ventures, with participation from Fusion Fund, Shasta...


Many in the United States see TikTok, the highly popular video-sharing app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, as a threat to national security.The following is...

Artificial Intelligence

Two of humanity’s greatest drivers, greed and curiosity, will push AI development forward. Our only hope is that we can control it.


Employees of Chinese tech giant ByteDance improperly accessed data from social media platform TikTok to track journalists in a bid to identify the source...

Mobile & Wireless

As smartphone manufacturers are improving the ear speakers in their devices, it can become easier for malicious actors to leverage a particular side-channel for...

Cloud Security

AWS has announced that server-side encryption (SSE-S3) is now enabled by default for all Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.


Meta was fined an additional $5.9 million for violating EU data protection regulations with WhatsApp messaging app.