'Politically motivated': Local and regional councillor candidate's hacked Twitter account filled with hateful messages
Oct. 19, 2022
The Vaughan Citizen has discovered a hacked Twitter account once belonging to regional and local councillor candidate Nick Pinto, containing many discriminatory remarks.
The account made comments toward several ethnic groups, but the Muslim community was largely the target of their ire.
"I am not a racist. Those were not my words. Those were not my thoughts," said Pinto.
When asked about his feeling directly about the Muslim community, Pinto had this to say:
"I love these guys, OK, they're out there helping me out. They're out there distributing my material. They're knocking on doors on my behalf. Honestly, maybe there's not another community like the Muslim community for the things that they do for the city," Pinto told the Vaughan Citizen.
The account at one time did belong to Pinto, according to his campaign manager, but it was hacked back in 2017. The team had been working to get rid of it since then, he said.
When asked why Pinto did not distance himself sooner from the account, he said he thought simply creating a new account would resolve the issue.
"When it comes to this kind of stuff, I am not ashamed to say it, but I'm a total klutz. And I thought by simply opening up another account would have taken care of the problem," said Pinto.
According to his campaign team, this was a co-ordinated smear campaign. They were sent screenshots printed on a piece of paper and thought it was an account that had nothing to do with him. A second glance revealed that someone had gotten into his personal account.
While it was not definitively proven that the account currently belongs to Pinto, its references to local politics make it seem like a political insider in Vaughan created it.
One example is a tweet suggesting that the Muzzo family should ask for contributions back made to local hospitals. Another tweet suggested that prisons should be built over libraries in Vaughan.
The hacked account also belonged to someone with Italian as a first language and interested in Italian politics.
“I've been told his account was hacked,” said Asif Khan, national public relations director for Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at (AMJ) Canada.
“Whoever is taking care of Vaughan residents, we want them to be people that care about diversity, inclusivity and the general well-being of everyone,” said Khan.
“I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if it's if he truly did these things that I hope the system somehow takes care of it and removes him as a candidate,” Khan added.
Pinto remains adamant that it was not him behind the account.
“I was locked out of this Twitter page in June of 2017 and created a new account July of 2017 which I have been using ever since. It is why this allegation is completely false and politically motivated,” added Pinto in a written statement. “As an immigrant, and a parent to a diverse family, I entirely oppose all forms of racism and discrimination.”
Since reaching out to Nick Pinto's team, the Twitter account has been deactivated.