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NASA, SpaceX prepared for Dragon capsules ocean landing

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Now they are coming home.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley boarded their Endeavour spacecraft and undocked from the station at 7:35 p.m. Eastern time Saturday as the space station flew 267 miles above Johannesburg.

“It’s been a great two months and we appreciate all you’ve done to help us prove Dragon for its maiden flight,” Hurley radioed to SpaceX mission control as the Dragon capsule left the station’s immediate vicinity. “We look forward to splashdown tomorrow.”

“Safe travels and have a successful landing. Endeavour’s a great ship. Godspeed,” said NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, the space station’s commanding officer.

Even though Hurricane Isaias is projected to hit the east coast of Florida just as Dragon would be returning, NASA and SpaceX, which owns and operates the spacecraft, could still proceed with a landing attempt, aiming for a site in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle, where waves are expected to be between one and two feet.

“Not intuitive, but Isaias may actually help make nice weather on landing a few hundred miles west,” Zebulon Scoville, NASA’s flight director, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning.

It will be the first landing ever by astronauts in the gulf, according to Jonathan McDowell, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The crew undocked from the station on schedule, first retracting cables that supplied power from the space station, then unlatching 12 hooks that had held the two together for more than two months. As it floated away, Endeavour fired small booster engines to push away. Splashdown Sunday is scheduled for 2:48 p.m.

Even without a menacing hurricane, the return journey is a treacherous one. The spacecraft will have to withstand temperatures as high as 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it plummets through the atmosphere. A quartet of parachutes will have to slow the 21,200-pound capsule for a soft landing at sea. Then rescue crews will have to quickly recover the vehicle from the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico in what would be the first water landing for United States astronauts since a joint U. S.-Soviet mission in 1975.

If all that weren’t challenging enough, NASA and SpaceX are attempting to bring the crew home in the midst of an unusually active hurricane season. And the possibility of strong winds from Tropical Storm Isaias kicking up an unruly churn has put NASA and SpaceX officials on alert.

But if SpaceX is able to bring Hurley and Behnken home safely in the first test flight with humans on board, it would be the triumphant culmination of years of work and the opening of a new era in human spaceflight in which corporations play a starring role alongside NASA.

Last year, SpaceX successfully completed a test run of the mission without astronauts that went smoothly and paved the way for Hurley and Behnken’s mission. It’s also flown its cargo Dragon spacecraft back to Earth in water landings many times successfully, so it has lots of practice.

Still, no one is ready to celebrate until they are safely home.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home,” Behnken said Saturday morning during a farewell ceremony on the space station.

At the ceremony, Hurley and Behnken gathered with their fellow station crewmates, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Cassidy handed Hurley an American flag that was brought up to the station on the very last space shuttle mission in 2011. Hurley, a member of that flight, now gets to bring it home, marking the restoration of human spaceflight from American soil.

“This flag has spent some time up here, on the order of nine years,” Hurley said. “I’m very proud to return this flag home and see what’s next for it on its journey to the Moon.”

Just after the successful launch of the spacecraft to orbit, Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder, said “there’s an argument that the return is more dangerous in some ways than the ascent. So we don’t want to declare victory yet. We need to bring them home safely, make sure that we’re doing everything we can to minimize the risk of reentry and return.”

Thinking about the astronauts and their families, he got emotional, unable to speak. “I’m getting choked up. … We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they get home safely.”

SpaceX started putting pictures of Hurley and Behnken on work orders to remind employees that lives were at stake. Recently, they had another reminder. Behnken’s wife, Megan McArthur, also a NASA astronaut, was recently chosen to fly on a SpaceX flight in the spring of 2021. To prepare, she spent a few days this week at the company’s headquarters.

In many ways, returning to Earth is more perilous than escaping it.

Getting to orbit requires an enormous amount of energy. The spacecraft goes from sitting still atop the rocket on the launchpad to chasing the space station at 17,500 mph in a matter of minutes. Coming home requires doing the reverse, shedding all that energy quickly. Friction with the thickening atmosphere will generate an enormous amount of heat that will engulf the spacecraft in a fireball.

“Out the window, it’s all orange, and it’s glowing, and it’s quite a sight,” said Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who flew two shuttle missions. “But you don’t feel anything. You know you don’t want to be out there because its thousands of degrees, but on the inside it’s pretty cool. It’s very comfortable.”

In mission control on the ground, NASA and SpaceX officials won’t be comfortable. As the fireball envelops the spacecraft, testing the heat shield, communication with the astronauts will be lost. The blackout will last approximately six minutes, but it will feel much longer.

During Apollo 13, the nearly catastrophic mission, the blackout went on for what seemed like forever, said Gerry Griffin, a legendary former flight director at NASA during the Apollo era.

The capcom, the person in mission control communicating with the astronauts, “kept calling Apollo 13. ’This is Houston,’” he recalled. “And nothing. He went on for two minutes. You could hear a pin drop in that control center.”

Unlike the shuttle, which landed on a runway, the Dragon spacecraft is something of a throwback, a capsule that will land in water under parachutes. Parachutes are an old technology but a tricky one, and SpaceX has struggled with their design. Last year, it suffered a failure during a test of the parachute system that ultimately prompted the company to upgrade the design.

The upgraded version uses a stronger material in the lines that run to the canopy and a new stitching intended to handle the loads at deployment.

“Parachutes are way harder than they look,” Musk said in an interview with The Post in the days leading up to the launch. “The Apollo program actually had a real morale issue with the parachutes because they were so damn hard. They had people quitting over how hard the parachutes were. And then you know we almost had people quit at SpaceX over how hard the parachutes were. I mean, they soldiered though, but, man, the parachutes are hard.”

If all goes well, two drogue parachutes will deploy when the spacecraft’s altitude is about 18,000 feet, traveling at some 350 mph. Then, as the drogue chutes slow the capsule to about 119 mph, four main parachutes should deploy at about 6,000 feet.

At a news conference late last year, Musk said the Mark 3 parachutes are “probably 10 times safer” than the Mark 2 version. “In my opinion they are the best parachutes ever. By a lot.”

Since the Apollo era, parachute design has come a long way, especially in the development of lightweight but stronger materials, said Kurt Hempe, the director of space business for Airborne Systems, which designs parachutes for SpaceX as well as several other space companies.

“But testing is absolutely an ordeal,” he said. “One of the big things we do today that they couldn’t do then was create computer models. We can come up with a model and simulate before we go fly. And then we go fly and we compare the data results with the model we developed.”

NASA and SpaceX have picked out seven different landing sites along the east and west coasts of Florida, ranging from approximately 22 nautical miles from shore to 175. Two recovery ships will be ready to speed to the spacecraft once it lands.

Adjusting to Earth’s gravity is always a difficult transition for astronauts, but landing in the water makes it even harder.

“You feel sick and you’re walking like a drunken sailor, if you’re walking at all,” Reisman said. “Couple that with landing in the ocean, bobbing up and down, even in relatively calm water, it’s going to be unpleasant.”

The water landing in itself presents a challenge. Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom nearly drowned after his spacecraft splashed down in 1961 and his Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft sank after the hatch blew early.

That’s why the NASA and SpaceX teams will be holding their breath until they see Hurley and Behnken safely on the deck of the boat.

“We didn’t celebrate anything in the control center until the guys stepped out on the carrier deck,” said Griffin, the Apollo era flight director. “That’s when we lit our cigars.”

In the coronavirus era, however, that won’t be likely. NASA is taking extra precautions to protect workers and the astronauts, including testing people who come in contact with the astronauts. And everyone will be wearing masks.

Listen to Moonrise: Our newest podcast tells a tale of nuclear brinkmanship, backroom politics and science fiction.

Living in space: Read stories from 50 astronauts who describe what it’s really like to live in space.

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Microsoft confirms plan to buy TikTok as Trump weighs options

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The president had also been weighing options over the past few days to force Beijing-based parent company ByteDance to divest in TikTok in the United States because of national security concerns, according to people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Microsoft confirmed it will “move quickly” on discussions with ByteDance and said it has given the U.S. government notice of a possible acquisition of the U.S. assets of TikTok.

This is the first time Microsoft has confirmed that the company is in talks for Microsoft to purchase TikTok operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections,” the tech giant said in its post.

TikTok and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If it goes through, the acquisition could dramatically shift the Big Tech landscape, adding a legacy giant into the scramble for social media users’ attention. Microsoft, currently valued at $1.55 trillion, is one of the most valuable companies in the world and is one of the only ones positioned to take on such a purchase. Microsoft was conspicuously absent from a landmark antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon chief executives testified on their companies’ power.

Buying TikTok would put Microsoft in a powerful position to compete with Facebook and Google’s YouTube, which operate dominant social media sites. Microsoft has focused mainly on enterprise software for the past decade, though it does own professional networking site LinkedIn.

Its absence from the social media market could also make it more likely regulators will approve Microsoft buying TikTok.

If Microsoft buys TikTok, it would also solve an ongoing issue for Republicans and Trump, who has attacked TikTok as a prominent target in his crackdown against China amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The continuing discussions, which Microsoft said it expected to conclude by Sept. 15, hinged largely on buy-in from the Trump administration.

Trump told reporters Friday night that he planned to ban the app in the United States, and had earlier indicated he would do so in retaliation for what he saw as China’s role in spreading the coronavirus.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.

But Saturday morning, TikTok officials were still waging a public campaign to garner favor with officials and fans, and assured users in a TikTok video that the platform was “here for the long run.” Passionate TikTok users took to the app all weekend to express their dismay and encourage their followers to find them on other social media sites.

Late last week, Trump was considering two main options to change the ownership of TikTok. One was through a process led by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which began investigating an acquisition by ByteDance of Musical.ly in 2017. The president considered signing an order to divest the company on Friday, according to the people familiar with the talks.

Trump also considered using a 2019 executive order to designate TikTok a national security threat and bar American companies and workers from doing business with it, the people said Friday.

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have previously been critical of TikTok’s Chinese ownership, saying it’s a threat to national security and threatening to ban it. That prompted ByteDance to start to explore a sale, although the company would prefer to retain TikTok if possible, another person familiar with the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, previously told The Washington Post.

Microsoft said it informed the CFIUS of its TikTok talks. The company also said it might bring in other American investors to take a minority stake in TikTok as part of the deal.

Microsoft said in its blog that it would “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States.” Ensuring American data privacy has been a main crux of lawmaker’s arguments against Chinese ownership of TikTok.

TikTok has continually insisted that it already keeps U.S. user data stored in the country and that it does not hand over data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, which has been downloaded more than 2 billion times according to research firm Sensor Tower, lets users make short videos that show them dancing, cooking, pulling pranks or taking political stances. It is especially popular with teenage users, who have used the platform to take aim at Trump.

That included earlier this summer, when teens encouraged each other to reserve tickets to Trump’s June rally in Tulsa, hoping to inflate the expected number of attendees even though they never planned to show up. The Trump campaign said that it had no impact on the event.

Correction: Microsoft is one of the most valuable companies in the world. This article previously said it was the third most valuable company in the world.

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AirPods vs. AirPods Pro: Should you spend the extra $100?

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Apple currently makes two true wireless earbud models: the second-gen AirPods (which list for $159, but are generally sold for closer to $139 in the US) come with optional wireless charging, and the $249 AirPods Pro, which feature active noise cancellation. I personally prefer the AirPods Pro and rated them higher than the standard AirPods in my review. But they cost around $110 more than the base AirPods without wireless charging and not everyone likes their noise-isolating design, which leaves you with a silicone ear tip pushed slightly into your ear canal. The looser fit of the AirPods has its advantages if you don’t want to spend $250 on earphones, especially ones that are easy to lose. 

AirPods vs. AirPods Pro Comparison

AirPods AirPods Pro
List price $159 $249
Active noise cancellation No Yes
Noise-isolating design No Yes
Battery life (between in-case charges) 4.5 hours 5 hours
Wireless charging In $199 model Yes

That, in a nutshell, is why some people aren’t sure about which AirPods to buy. And while there are plenty of excellent non-Apple true wireless earbuds out there — just peruse my list of the best true wireless earbuds of 2020 — you’re presumably here because you’re on the fence about the AirPods or AirPods Pro. Let’s see if we can help you make a decision.

Read more: Best cheap true-wireless earbuds of 2020

Sarah Tew/CNET

Simply put, the main reason to buy the standard AirPods is to save money. The model with the regular charging case currently sells for $139 while the model with the wireless charging case sells for $169 ($199 if you buy at the Apple Store). Occasionally, the prices dip to $130 and you can find “renewed” options for as low as $120. I personally think wireless charging is a bit overrated (when it comes to headphones, anyway), so I wouldn’t pay the extra money for it. If I was buying the standard AirPods, my goal would be to pay as little as possible for them.

As I said, some people don’t like having silicone buds stuck in their ears. That’s the reason why so many people like the original AirPods. They just sort of nestle in your ear — and when they fit right, they’re really comfortable. And a few folks at CNET have told me that even though the AirPods Pro sounded better, they still preferred the fit of the regular AirPods.

I’m among those who can’t get the standard AirPods to stay in my ears securely without using third-party stabilizing wings (and you have to take off the wings to get the AirPods back in their charging case, which is a nuisance). That’s the main reason I prefer the AirPods Pro. 

The biggest drawback of the standard AirPods’ “open” design is that it allows ambient sound to leak in. They sound decent in quieter environments — and their performance as a headset for making calls is almost as good as the AirPods Pro — but the listening experience deteriorates in noisy environments.

Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The standard AirPods fit some people’s ears perfectly (some people have no trouble running with them), but plenty of people can’t get a secure fit. If you’re in the latter group, I highly recommend you spend the extra money on the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro design simply fits more ears than the original AirPods. I hesitate to call it a universal fit because there are always exceptions, but they’re close.

As noted, the only issue is that some people simply don’t like having silicone buds stuck in their ears, even if they’re as soft and pliant as these tips are. Also, some people are sensitive to the pressure sensation, albeit it slight, that’s a byproduct of active noise canceling.

The first thing you notice about the AirPods Pro is that they simply sound better than the standard AirPods because they have more bass. The reason they have more bass is largely due to their new noise-isolating design and new drivers that are tuned for that design. The standard AirPods sound decent enough in quiet places but due to their open design, they just don’t do well when confronted with external noise — the bass frequencies get drowned out. The AirPods’ noise cancellation, which is effective, also helps with external noise, and the combination of the seal of the tips and the ANC means they sound much better in noisier environments such as city streets.

The standard AirPods are quite good for making calls. With the release of the second-gen model last year — the ones discussed above — Apple improved their noise-reduction capabilities, particularly wind noise. The AirPods Pro have three microphones on each bud, one of which is a beamforming mic that’s designed to pick up your voice. They also have similar noise-reduction capabilities, plus a vent system that’s not only supposed to relieve some of the pressure that can build up in your ear from a noise-isolating design coupled with noise-canceling features, but can help cut down on wind noise a tad, an Apple rep told me. More importantly, you can simply hear callers better because of the Pros’ noise-isolating design.

The AirPods Pro will soon have another advantage. In June, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference that the AirPods Pro will get a big upgrade this fall with the release of iOS 14: a “spatial audio” feature that simulates surround sound. 

Both the AirPods and AirPods Pro will get automatic switching between Apple devices, another new feature in iOS 14, but only the AirPods Pro will get the virtual surround feature.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.

Read more: Apple’s new spatial audio feature should have Bose and Sony worried

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From Minecraft Tricks to Twitter Hack: A Florida Teen’s Troubled Online Path

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For Graham Ivan Clark, the online mischief-making started early.

By the age of 10, he was playing the video game Minecraft, in part to escape what he told friends was an unhappy home life. In Minecraft, he became known as an adept scammer with an explosive temper who cheated people out of their money, several friends said.

At 15, he joined an online hackers’ forum. By 16, he had gravitated to the world of Bitcoin, appearing to involve himself in a theft of $856,000 of the cryptocurrency, though he was never charged for it, social media and legal records show. On Instagram posts afterward, he showed up with designer sneakers and a bling-encrusted Rolex.

The teenager’s digital misbehavior ended on Friday when the police arrested him at a Tampa, Fla., apartment. Florida prosecutors said Mr. Clark, now 17, was the “mastermind” of a prominent hack last month, accusing him of tricking his way into Twitter’s systems and taking over the accounts of some of the world’s most famous people, including Barack Obama, Kanye West and Jeff Bezos.

His arrest raised questions about how someone so young could penetrate the defenses of what was supposedly one of Silicon Valley’s most sophisticated technology companies. Mr. Clark, who prosecutors said worked with at least two others to hack Twitter but was the leader, is being charged as an adult with 30 felonies.

Millions of teenagers play the same video games and interact in the same online forums as Mr. Clark. But what emerges in interviews with more than a dozen people who know him, along with legal documents, online forensic work and social media archives, is a picture of a youth who had a strained relationship with his family and who spent much of his life online becoming skilled at convincing people to give him money, photos and information.

“He scammed me for a little bit of money when I was just a kid,” said Colby Meeds, 19, a Minecraft player who said Mr. Clark stole $50 from him in 2016 by offering to sell him a digital cape for a Minecraft character but not delivering it.

Reached via a brief video call on Sunday from the Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa, Mr. Clark appeared in a black sleeveless shirt, his hair tumbling into his eyes. “What are your questions?” he asked, before pushing back his chair and hanging up. He is scheduled for a virtual court appearance on Tuesday.

Mr. Clark and his sister grew up in Tampa with their mother, Emiliya Clark, a Russian immigrant who holds certifications to work as a facialist and as a real estate broker. Reached at her home, his mother declined to comment. His father lives in Indiana, according to public documents; he did not return a request for comment. His parents divorced when he was 7.

Mr. Clark doted on his dog and didn’t like school or have many friends, said James Xio, who met Mr. Clark online several years ago. He had a habit of moving between emotional extremes, flying off the handle over small transgressions, Mr. Xio said.

“He’d get mad mad,” said Mr. Xio, 18. “He had a thin patience.”

Abishek Patel, 19, who played Minecraft with Mr. Clark, defended him. “He has a good heart and always looks out for the people who he cares about,” he said.

In 2016, Mr. Clark set up a YouTube channel, according to the social media monitoring firm SocialBlade. He built an audience of thousands of fans and became known for playing a violent version of Minecraft called Hardcore Factions, under user names like “Open” and “OpenHCF.”

But he became even better known for taking money from other Minecraft players. People can pay for upgrades with the game, like accessories for their characters.

One tactic used by Mr. Clark was appearing to sell desirable user names for Minecraft and then not actually providing the buyer with that user name. He also offered to sell the capes for Minecraft characters, but sometimes vanished after other players sent him money.

Mr. Clark once offered to sell his own Minecraft user name, “Open,” said Nick Jerome, 21, a student at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. The two messaged over Skype and Mr. Jerome, who was then 17, said he sent about $100 for the user name because he thought it was cool. Then Mr. Clark blocked him.

“I was just kind of a dumb teenager, and looking back, there’s no way I should have ever done this,” Mr. Jerome said. “Why should I ever have trusted this dude?”

In late 2016 and early 2017, other Minecraft players produced videos on YouTube describing how they had lost money or faced online attacks after brushes with Mr. Clark’s alias “Open.” In some of those videos, Mr. Clark, who can be heard using racist and sexist epithets, also talked about being home schooled while making $5,000 a month from his Minecraft activities.

Mr. Clark’s real identity rarely showed up online. At one point, he revealed his face and gaming setup online, and some players called him Graham. His name was also mentioned in a 2017 Twitter post.

Mr. Clark’s interests soon expanded to the video game Fortnite and the lucrative world of cryptocurrencies. He joined an online forum for hackers, known as OGUsers, and used the screen name Graham$. His OGUsers account was registered from the same internet protocol address in Tampa that had been attached to his Minecraft accounts, according to research done for The Times by the online forensics firm Echosec.

Mr. Clark described himself on OGUsers as a “full time crypto trader dropout” and said he was “focused on just making money all around for everyone.” Graham$ was later banned from the community, according to posts uncovered by Echosec, after the moderators said he failed to pay Bitcoin to another user who had already sent him money to complete a transaction.

Still, Mr. Clark had already harnessed OGUsers to find his way into a hacker community known for taking over people’s phone numbers to access all of the online accounts attached to the numbers, an attack known as SIM swapping. The main goal was to drain victims’ cryptocurrency accounts.

In 2019, hackers remotely seized control of the phone of Gregg Bennett, a tech investor in the Seattle area. Within a few minutes, they had secured Mr. Bennett’s online accounts, including his Amazon and email accounts, as well as 164 Bitcoins that were worth $856,000 at the time and would be worth $1.8 million today.

Mr. Bennett soon received an extortion note, which he shared with The Times. It was signed by Scrim, another of Mr. Clark’s online aliases, according to several of his online friends.

“We just want the remainder of the funds in the Bittrex,” Scrim wrote, referring to the Bitcoin exchange from which the coins had been taken. “We are always one step ahead and this is your easiest option.”

In April, the Secret Service seized 100 Bitcoins from Mr. Clark, according to government forfeiture documents. A few weeks later, Mr. Bennett received a letter from the Secret Service saying they had recovered 100 of his Bitcoins, citing the same code that was assigned to the coins seized from Mr. Clark.

It is unclear whether other people were involved in the incident or what happened to the remaining 64 Bitcoins.

Mr. Bennett said in an interview that a Secret Service agent told him that the person with the stolen Bitcoins was not arrested because he was a minor. The Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment.

By then, Mr. Clark was living in his own apartment in a Tampa condo complex. He had an expensive gaming setup, a balcony and a view of a grassy park, according to friends and social media posts.

Two neighbors said that Mr. Clark kept to himself, coming and going at unusual hours and driving a white BMW 3 Series.

On an Instagram account that has since been taken down, @error, Mr. Clark also shared videos of himself swaying to rap music in designer sneakers. He was given a shout-out on Instagram by a jeweler to the hip-hop elite, with a picture showing that Mr. Clark, as @error, had purchased a gem-encrusted Rolex.

Mr. Xio, who became close friends with Mr. Clark, said the April run-in with the Secret Service shook Mr. Clark.

“He knew he was given a second chance,” Mr. Xio said. “And he wanted to work on being as legit as possible.”

But less than two weeks after the Secret Service seizure, prosecutors said Mr. Clark began working to get inside Twitter. According to a government affidavit, Mr. Clark convinced a “Twitter employee that he was a co-worker in the IT department and had the employee provide credentials to access the customer service portal.”

For help, Mr. Clark found accomplices on OGUsers, according to the charging documents. The accomplices offered to broker the sale of Twitter accounts that had cool user names, like @w, while Mr. Clark would enter Twitter’s systems and change ownership of the accounts, according to the filings and accounts from the accomplices.

The hack unfolded on July 15. A few days later, one accomplice, who went by the name “lol,” told The Times that the person they knew as the mastermind began cheating the customers who wanted to covertly buy the Twitter accounts. The hacker took the money and handed over the account, but then quickly reclaimed it by using his access to Twitter’s systems to boot out the client. It was reminiscent of what Mr. Clark had done earlier on Minecraft.

When Mr. Clark’s online acquaintances learned he had been charged with the hack, several said they were not surprised.

“He never really seemed to care about anyone but himself,” said Connor Belcher, a gamer known as @iMakeMcVidz who had previously teamed up on a separate YouTube channel with Mr. Clark before becoming one of his online critics.

Susan Jacobson contributed reporting from Tampa, Fla. Sheelagh McNeil and Jack Begg contributed research.

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