Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked Facebook for its help in returning his account to normal after he revealed it was hacked on Monday. He also urged tech-savvy Cambodians to use their skills for the benefit of society rather than attempt to harm it.
“[I] Uncle would like to thank all for contributing to prevent the fake news that a handful of ignorant people intended to spread and cause chaos and destroy our society. I appreciate you all for trying to study Information Technology [IT].”
“I encourage you all, nephews, to take your skills and knowledge, especially in IT, to use for the sake of the nation, and avoid anything that could damage other people and society,” Hun Sen posted on Facebook on Monday night.
The prime minister also reminded social media users to be careful, saying hackers had targeted his Facebook account on many previous occasions.
Hun Sen confirmed his Facebook account had been hacked on Monday, with hackers posting a message which read: “The Facebook company deleted and tried to shut down my account. I, Hun Sen, would like to respond that if you dare shut down my Facebook, I will shut down Facebook in Cambodia.”
“My Facebook was managed by hackers [on Monday] and the message claiming that I would close down Facebook in Cambodia was not mine. It was a message posted by the hackers."
“I reject this information which spoiled society,” he told Fresh News in an interview on Monday afternoon, not long after the hackers’ post was deleted.
After the prime minister announced his Facebook account had been hacked, users of the social media platform continued to spread the fake post, claiming it was actually from Hun Sen.
One of those was “acting president” of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy, Hun Sen’s long-time political rival.
The Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP “acting president” claimed, without supplying any evidence, that Hun Sen had used nearly $300,000 of public funds to buy advertising on Facebook.
Rainsy also claimed that Facebook was about to close Hun Sen’s account because the latter had “threatened to destroy at least three million CNRP supporters”. Facebook, he said, did not allow the use of threatening words.
He lost a court case in late 2016 after accusing Hun Sen of buying Facebook “likes”. He was ordered to pay the prime minister around $3,750 and was fined around $2,500.
Rainsy also filed a complaint with a Californian court last year, demanding Facebook hand over information related to the prime minister’s page.
He had requested the social media giant provide information relevant to his defamation conviction over saying Hun Sen had paid for “likes”.
Facebook argued the request was too broad and the court agreed, rejecting Rainsy’s request.
Political analyst Em Sovannara said it was not unusual to see Rainsy share the hacked content as it was an opportunity for him to attack his political rival.
More importantly, he said, the hacking of Hun Sen’s account showed that online security was limited.
“This shows that security on the internet or on Facebook is not capable of preventing hacking. What happened this time was just to the [prime minister]. But what would happen if the whole country’s accounts were hacked? This is what the public should be concerned about."
“Hun Sen has said in the past that anyone who insulted him [online] would be found within just eight minutes. But we did not see anyone arrested."
“So this shows the ability of a good politician in using rhetoric rather than what is possible in actual practice – both in the ruling party and the opposition,” he said.