Breaches in the Associated Press (AP) Twitter account lead directly to a sharp dip in the US stock market last week. On the East Coast of the US hundreds of thousands of AP’s followers were informed that there were explosions at the Whitehouse. The world’s leading news organisation responded quickly that the message was the work of a hacker, but the damage was already done.
In the short term all AP Twitter accounts were suspended thereby disrupting the organisation’s business. In the long term its trustworthiness will most certainly be questioned - possibly fatal for a respected news organisation.
Almost predictably, The Guardian's Twitter feed was hacked a couple of days after reporting the AP story.
Now that Twitter has once again proved itself to be a powerful member of The Forth Estate, what can be done to help prevent these inevitable social media catastrophes happening again?
The mis-use of social media in the news environment can have serious consequences so the protection of usernames and passwords is paramount. The sharing of passwords for social profiles is often the reason accounts are so easy to access and shared passwords are also often far too simple.
Also large organisations posting directly on social media, without going through a management platform, heightens the risk of being hacked and therefore losing control of your social media accounts. And, as shown by this story, there is more than embarrassment at stake here.