Is it a nuclear code? Is it a password? Is it a cryptic cyber message, or is it just an accidental tweet? President Trump's press secretary Shaun Spicer has got the Twittersphere in a frenzy after a series of nonsensical numbers and letters appeared in tweets from his account.
The first baffling message appeared on Wednesday (25 January 2017) and simply read "Aqenbpuu". It gained the attention and curiosity of many people online, some of whom suggested the White House press secretary and communications director for President Donald Trump had accidentally broadcast his Twitter password. Unlikely.
The foil-hat brigade also suggested that Spicer could have broadcast something more serious – perhaps a military code or secret set of instructions. Some even went as far to say it could have been a form of SOS. Also unlikely.
The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.
This could have been forgiven as a simple, insignificant mistake, but then the following morning (26 January) another tweet appeared.
This one contained only a jumbled string of alphanumerics – "n9y25ah7" – and had even the most cynical sorts stroking their chins in curiosity. Then that tweet also vanished.
What do the mystery tweets mean?
It's not a password – not for Spicer's Twitter account, at least. The White house security staff would have changed this instantly if it was, anyway.
Some have claimed it was Spicer attempting to log in to his Twitter account using two-factor authentication, but this theory is flawed as Twitter's 2FA password system consists solely of numbers.
It's extremely unlikely it was caused by Spicer sitting on his phone, either. Unless he was using a phone from the early 2000s that had a keypad, this just doesn't happen anymore. Accidentally typing, let alone sending, a message from your back pocket is almost impossible on touchscreen mobile phones.
However, with both tweets being eight characters in length, it does have us raising an eyebrow in intrigue. In a twist to the tale, the messages didn't actually come directly from Twitter – they came from a third-party Twitter client for SMS called Cloudhopper. It's very likely that the codes are passwords for something – we just won't know what. It seems that Spicer may have meant to send them to a contact after replying to a text, but instead accidentally used Cloudhopper.
Neither Spicer nor anyone from the White House have commented on the cryptic tweets, and unless we see another one strangely surface, it's likely to be the end of the mystery. Or is it?