Another Hacked Twitter Account, Another Warning for PR execs


If there are any PR execs who continue to doubt the power of Twitter, your ranks may be starting to thin out.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged within minutes early this afternoon, after somebody hacked an AP Twitter account and posted a bogus tweet saying the White House had been attacked, according to

White House spokesman Jay Carney quickly got on the air and dismissed the story. The AP also quickly dismissed the tweet, saying, “That is a bogus @AP tweet.”

The Dow was at 14,698 when the bogus tweet hit. Within two minutes, the Dow had dropped 127 points and fallen into the red, said.

The episode is a fresh reminder of how information that’s posted on Twitter, regardless of its veracity, can spread like wildfire. Indeed, we’re reminded of Mark Twain’s quip that “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

But in a social-media age, PR and communicators have to be at the ready and prepare for the inevitable hacking of their Twitter accounts.

With that in mind, we thought it wise to share some PR best practices tips for reducing the points of vulnerability that hackers exploit, per Peter LaMotte, a senior VP at LEVICK and Chair of the company’s Digital Practice unit.

1. Diverse passwords Too many organizations use the same passwords to access and manage all of their social media properties. Instead, organizations should diversify their passwords by creating uniformed segments within the password specific to the company, the user and the platform.  

2. Strategic access Limit access to social media passwords to only those in the organization who need them to do their jobs. The fewer people that are aware of the password, the fewer opportunities there are for it to fall into malicious hands.

3. Factor authentication For the more cautious brands factor authentication represents the most intense level of password security available. When seeking access to social media properties account managers enter login information and then are sent a random password to an email address or mobile device. They then enter that password for total access.

4. Testing If fear morphs into outright paranoia, organizations can hire outside experts to test their security much like they would probe IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities. These experts essentially act as would-be hackers seeking to exploit the any holes in the organization’s system.


Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

Follow Peter Lamotte:  @PeterLaMotte

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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