Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle was hacked in the early hours of Sunday, his office said.
“The matter was escalated to Twitter and the account has been immediately secured,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.
While it was not immediately clear how long the handle had been compromised, Modi’s office added that any tweet shared during “the brief period” must be ignored.
Another Bitcoin scam?
The Indian premier’s Twitter handle @narendramodi, which has more than 73 million followers, sent out a tweet falsely declaring that India had adopted Bitcoin as legal tender.
“The government has officially bought 500 BTC and is distributing them to all residents of the country,” the fake tweet said.
This was followed by a link to a blog promising a Bitcoin giveaway that has since been taken down.
A similar incident occurred with the Twitter handle of Modi’s personal website in September 2020.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, a tweet was sent through the handle @narendramodi_in asking followers to donate to a relief fund using cryptocurrency.
This came just months after high-profile US Twitter accounts, including those of Barack Obama, Kanye West, Jeff Bezos, and Mike Bloomberg were hit by what appeared to be a scam to dupe social media users into making bitcoin donations.
India on cryptocurrency
Earlier on Saturday, Modi spoke about cryptocurrencies at a virtual “Summit for Democracy” hosted by US President Joe Biden.
In his address, he said that emerging technologies like cryptocurrencies should be used to empower democracy, not undermine it.
“We must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies so that they are used to empower democracy, not to undermine it,” Modi said.
The Indian government also announced last month that it planned on introducing a bill that “seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India.”
The bill would allow “for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses,” according to a bulletin of parliament’s upcoming business.
The government has since taken a more nuanced stance on the issue.
In late November, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told parliament that the government had no plans of recognizing Bitcoin as a currency, adding that it did not collect data on domestic bitcoin transactions.
“This is a risky area and not in a complete regulatory framework,” she told parliament.
With material from Reuters news agency
Edited by Wesley Dockery