Airborne suspends driver after racial slurs found
PLATTSBURGH — Airborne Speedway has suspended driver Nathan Smart, who raced in the 4-cylinder division last season, indefinitely due to derogatory comments and racial slurs on his personal Facebook.
Smart, of Altona, said in a statement, Wednesday, that his Facebook account “was hacked by an unknown source” on Monday.
“During that time, comments and posts were made that were racially based and unacceptable,” a statement from Smart, which was directed toward Airborne Speedway’s Facebook, read.
Airborne handed down the suspension Tuesday after the remarks found on Smart’s Facebook were brought to the attention of track officials.
“We want to make it clear that anyone that races at Airborne Speedway is not an employee of the race track and any comments that are made or have been made do not reflect the views of Airborne Speedway or any of its sponsors,” a statement from Airborne Speedway management said.
Management also reinforced that the track has a social media policy in place that drivers are required to follow at all times.
The post in question from Smart’s account that caused upset said, “Why do Black people wear their pants down to the ankles(?)”
The post continued with a rhetorical question that pointed out if you spell a word backwards it results in a racial slur.
A chain of comments from the post followed, including two separate comments from Smart’s account that expressed an aggravated point of view regarding the Black Lives Matter movement as well as a derogatory remark about slavery.
Smart said in his statement that he is working on reaching out to Facebook to get confirmation of a login from an unfamiliar IP (internet protocol) address.
Dr. Delbert Hart, Professor and Chair of Computer Science at SUNY Plattsburgh, said targeted attacks, such as the one Smart claims, do occur but are less common than attacks related to privacy.
“One piece of information Facebook could use to evaluate the claim of this being an attack would be to look at the IP address and the times when the comments and posts were made,” Hart said.
“If malware (malicious software) was used as part of the attack, then a thorough investigation of the device could find traces of it.”
Hart said Facebook is probably the only entity that has enough information to evaluate the claim of an attack, and the main piece of information needed to do so is determining the IP address the posts and comments came from.
“If (the post and comments) were made from an address that the account owner doesn’t have access to, then that would support it was an attack,” Hart said. “If it came from an address he regularly uses, then it is less likely it was an attack.
“In this latter case, it would either have to be the attacker had physical access to his computing device (computer or phone) or the computer (or) phone had malware on it that allowed the attacker remote access to it.”
In the malware scenario, Hart said, there would be evidence of the malware on the device that an IT (information technology) group could find.
“It would be unusual though for a personal attack to be this sophisticated,” Hart said. “In the physical access scenario, the person would need an alibi to show that they were doing something different during the time the posts (and) comments were made.”
Smart’s Facebook account has been deactivated in an effort to prevent further comments or posts, according to Smart’s statement.
“I want to make it clear that I do not believe in or agree with any of the comments or posts that were found on my page,” Smart said. “I understand that I am responsible for what is posted on my personal Facebook page, but I am now reaching out to Facebook for help on this matter.
“I sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by the comments and posts.”
Airborne officials said they will wait until further information is determined as to whether or not Smart’s Facebook was tampered with before reassessing the indefinite suspension.