Unidentified hackers took over a variety of Vevo’s YouTube accounts—including Chris Brown, Shakira, Drake, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift’s pages—to alter videos to spread pro-Palestinian sentiment. While it’s a noble cause to shine light on the vile human rights abuses being commandeered in Gaza, the methodology here was not only unfair to the artists involved, but illegal. According to Variety, two 18-year-old French hackers have now been arrested in Paris as suspects in the investigation.
The suspects, Nassim B. and Gabrial K.A.B., otherwise known by their handles Prosox and Kuroi’ish, respectively, are alleged to have illegally commandeered Vevo’s YouTube account and altered its content—specifically, music videos for Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” (YouTube’s most popular music video of 2017) and others by the aforementioned artists.
It wasn’t just the videos themselves, that were altered, either—as Prosox and Kuroi’ish allegedly switched the thumbnails, titles, and descriptions in their favor, as well. Any unwelcome changes have since been changed back to their original state, of course.
The investigation was a collaborative effort on behalf of the Paris Prosecutor’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, with the latter being located in the same city as Vevo’s headquarters. Gabrial K.A.B. was charged with five criminal counts, and Nassim B. with six, including “fraudulently modifying data contained in an automated data processing system.” In other words—they were charged with illegal hacking.
In unrelated news to the specifics of this hack and its resulting investigation and arrests, Vevo announced this week that it’s planning on closing its mobile apps and consumer-centric website in order to concentrate more effectively on video distribution on YouTube. As for the two Parisian hackers, unfortunately, the next time they’ll be online will presumably be at a mess hall inside of a thoroughly guarded facility.