Presidental candidate Jared Ginsburg said he plans to file an elections complaint that the official Facebook page for Undergraduate Student Government was hacked during voting for USG elections.
USG officials said at around 5:30 p.m. that a hack did occur, but said at 11 p.m. that they could neither confirm nor deny a hack.
“No one from [USG] communications or technology posted [the status] so we cannot confirm that they actually ever appeared on the page,” said Sabena Suri, USG senior director of communications.
Statuses allegedly appeared on the USG page urging followers to vote for the presidential ticket of Mikey Geragos and Vinnie Prasad, according to screenshots taken by Ginsburg. The hacks were discovered around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Ginsburg said.
The Facebook accounts of students who publicly supported Ginsburg’s campaign also posted the same status supporting Geragos and Prasad, Ginsburg said.
According to the screenshots, the statuses posted by the students’ accounts and USG’s page read: “Vote Mikey/Vinnie for USG Pres and VP!!”
Suri said USG’s communication and technology team determined no USG members had posted the comments on the page.
USG members and programs cannot endorse or support a specific candidate, according to article IX, section D of the USG elections code.
Ginsburg said Wednesday night that his campaign is planning to file an official election complaint Thursday morning.
After a complaint is filed, an election commission comprised of five students would have 24 hours to review the case and decide whether to proceed or dismiss the case. If they choose to hear the case, the commission would have 24 hours to make a ruling. A video of the commission meeting would be released the next day.
“The election commission is responsible for coming up with any and all punishments and repercussions for any action that is brought before them,” said Elise Fabbro, USG co-director of elections and recruitment.
Geragos said his campaign was not involved with the Facebook hacks.
“I am extremely committed to running a fair campaign so I personally investigated the Facebook hacking allegations from another candidate,” Geragos said. “The only person who saw these statuses live on Facebook seems to be Jared.”
Geragos said his research found that the allegedly hacked statuses of individual Facebook users showed the same location and time stamps as election-related statuses that were posted on the hacking victim’s walls.
“I’m definitely not taking these allegations lightly,” Geragos said. “I’m reserving the right to file a complaint. I haven’t decided yet because I would like to do a little more investigating, but it’s definitely on the table.”
Ginsburg said his campaign was investigating the incident by contacting Facebook and the hack victims before filing an official complaint.
“We are speaking to many of the individuals who had their Facebooks hacked,” Ginsburg said. “We are trying to get in contact with Facebook to find out what happened. We are trying to get in contact with whomever we possibly can to figure out who is responsible for this.”
According to the screenshot, the first update from USG’s page supporting Geragos’ ticket was posted at about 7 p.m., 21 hours before the screenshots were taken.
“It has been [up for] almost a full day of the voting period, and USG has several hundred, if not a thousand, followers who may have seen that post and thus had their vote influenced one way or another,” Ginsburg said.
USG has nearly 1,500 followers on Facebook.
Voting ends Thursday and preliminary results will be released Feb. 21. The official results will be announced the following week.