Bella Thorne has thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for tracking down one of the men who allegedly hacked her social media in 2019.
Joseph O’Connor, a 22-year-old British man, was arrested in Spain in connection to Thorne’s June 2016 hack, as well as to a string of cyber-attacks against US president Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Barack Obama and more last year.
He faces charges in the US of hacking, extortion and cyberstalking, according to a Wednesday (21 July) news release from the US Justice Department.
“I want to thank the FBI for searching tirelessly for the person who made my life and others a living hell,” Thorne wrote in an Instagram post that same day.
“I have felt violated many times in my life, but I thought I didn’t have a way out, so I made a choice. My choice.
“A choice I didn’t want to make but felt I had to because I wouldn’t spend another day feeling someone was taking away from me my body, my soul, my mental health, and my love and hope for the world.”
Bella Thorne has simple message to hackers: ‘F**k you’
O’Connor allegedly hacked into the 23-year-old actor’s Snapchat and threatened to release nude photographs on the account.
Bella Thorne was told she could only get back her compromised account if she thanked him for doing so in a public Twitter post, according to the affidavit submitted by an FBI agent who investigated the breach, per The New York Times.
Instead, a defiant Throne proved to be a thorn in the hacker’s side as she released the explicit photographs on her own Twitter to thwart them.
“I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me,” she said in a statement alongside the tweet at the time.
“I can sleep tonight better knowing that I took my power back. U can’t control my life u never will.”
As much as the arrest brought relief for Thorne, she took a moment to “get something across that I have wanted to say for a long time” in the lengthy Instagram post.
(Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
“For all the people who think because a woman is comfortable with their body and how they portray themselves that they are ‘asking for it’, for the people who think ‘she deserves it’ because she was there or had a beer in her hand or wore a short skirt, and for the people that think because she took the photo she deserves to be humiliated with it – and she deserves for everyone to look at it and inscribe every piece and bit of her in their mind,” she said.
“Or because she took the photo, she deserves that one moment to follow her, taunt her for the rest of her life through every waking moment.
“To those who made those remarks, they were disgusting. I hope you feel disgusting.
“To those few people. Sincerely f**k you.”
The Justice Department confirmed O’Connor’s arrest is tied to a saga that seized the internet last July when hackers crowbarred into social media accounts belonging to top government officials, celebrities and corporations.
More than 100 accounts belonging to everyone from Bill Gates to Apple, Jeff Bezos to Kim Kardashian, Uber to Mike Bloomberg were briefly stolen.
All, for the most part, sent out identical messages urging followers to send them Bitcoin. Some $180,000 was fleeced from unsuspecting victims in the process.
Spanish National Police arrested Joseph O’Connor in Estepona, a resort town in Costa del Sol, the department said.
“According to court documents, in addition to the 15 July 2020, hack of Twitter, O’Connor is charged with computer intrusions related to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts,” the department added.
“O’Connor is also charged with cyberstalking a juvenile victim.”
He had previously denied being behind the sprawling Twitter hack and told The New York Times: “I don’t care, they can come arrest me.
“I would laugh at them. I haven’t don’t anything.”
It remains unknown at the time of writing whether O’Connor did, in fact, laugh.