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Hacked Social Media Accounts, Hoaxes and George Parker

Some information about hacked social media accounts and the steps to fix them

Who is George Parker you ask?

Parker was one of the most audacious con men in American history. He made his living selling New York’s public landmarks to unwary tourists. His favorite object for sale was the Brooklyn Bridge, which he sold twice a week for years.

From http://listverse.com/2007/08/28/top-10-famous-con-men/

And what you ask, does George Parker have to do with hacked accounts and hoaxes?

Well quite a bit. Hacked accounts nab the unwary and naïve (only in the sense that many people online have the lack of information or experience to see something “off” right away). Similar to old George who was hocking the BrooklynBridge to unsuspecting tourists. It doesn’t mean they were dumb, they just don’t (and didn’t) know any better.

Hoaxes are similar in that if enough people are posting it online, and it looks (at first glance) to be from an official source, it must be true. George got away with selling the Bridge for years, and people believed him because he came across as being official.

From a business and marketing perspective, both hacks and hoaxes can damage your name and your brand.

The latest “rumor” hoax going around Facebook was the “In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, paintings, writing, publications, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention)” etc. Which I saw posted repeatedly early this week by Business Pages and Personal Pages both. Last month it was “Facebook is requiring me to pay to Post” for Business Pages and there have been many more. The copyright chain letter/hoax originally popped up in June and then just resurfaced recently.

When a business posts something like this on a Business timeline, and it’s proved (often quite quickly) that its fraudulent, Take it down. Better yet, first investigate before you post. Google it, is often the easiest way. Ask some industry people if they have heard about it before posting it.

As a business, when you just jump into something hyped, it makes the business look bad, even if taken down or retracted. Posting anything without investigating a little first is unfortunately a sign of the times. How many times have we seen hoaxes that spread like wildfire that Morgan Freeman or Charlie Sheen has died….again.

Being hacked, and then not dealing with, not doing damage control and worse, not even being aware of it, is even worse for a business.

While it is twitter that is where most businesses get the visual results seen of a hacking attack most often, it does end up on other networks. Reports of Pinterest accounts being hacked in the last week are surfacing as well. I think because Pinterest users are linking to their twitter accounts and giving it access, the twitter account gets hacked first and that gives it access to Pinterest. I don’t know that for a fact, but it seems logical.

Regardless of where the hacks originate, businesses on twitter for instance might start posting ads for weight loss products or free iPads (and be completely unaware of it). They might also be sending out automatic DMs (direct messages) to anyone that follows them, with DMs saying things like, “they are saying nasty things about you in this video: and then a link” or “precisely what could you be doing on that movie: and then a shortened link”. I just got the last one yesterday from an inn that got their account hacked.

Unfortunately if the receipt of a DM like that clicks the link, they get hacked as well, and so it spreads.

From a consumers/guest/client/potential or already buyer of your product or service, ouch! Not only is your business promoting junk on your public timeline, your followers account just got hacked as well because they clicked on the link!

Businesses need to keep aware of what is being posted on their public timelines, be it twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any other network.

If you get or see a dodgy message on any network, never click on the links. Do a search on Google and on twitter for any phraseology being used. i.e. and put in quotes, “they are saying nasty things about you in this video”. Anytime a spam/scam message circulates on twitter for example it usually gets caught pretty quickly and people post about it.

Steps to protect yourself if your accounts get hacked:

With all social media, changing your password is not enough to stop a hack, it’s generally applications that have been given access to the network that is the issue.

Twitter:

Go to the cog at the top right of your twitter page and click on the dropdown menu and go to “edit profile”. On the left will appear a list, click on “Apps” and then disable any applications you don’t remember enabling. Then change your password.

Facebook:

On the top right of your personal Facebook page, you will see a little white “Home” right to the right of that is a small arrow that has a pull down menu. Go to “Account Settings” then on the left to “Apps”. X out any applications that you don’t recognize or authorize. Some applications that you did authorize may be the culprit as well, just be careful what you give access to. Then change your password.

Linkedin:

Go to your name at the top right, click on the pull down menu and go to “Settings”. Then on the lower left, “Groups, companies and applications”. The “view your applications”. Click on the applications you want removed in the check boxes and then scroll down and hit the remove button. Then change your password.

Pinterest:

Go to your name at the top right, go to “settings’, the two networks it has access to are Facebook and twitter. Slide the access from Login with Facebook/Twitter to Off, it will ask you if you want to disable access to them, select yes. Change your password then. If you think another account has been hacked, i.e. twitter, you may want to follow the steps to clean twitter, then go to Pinterest and disable access there as well.

You should be monitoring what you are posting on social media anyway, I think people would be slightly appalled if they knew what fragments of Facebook posts that are set to autofeed into their twitter accounts actually look like sometimes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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