The Power of Twitter
Although often underestimated, Twitter is an enourmously powerful public relations tool. If you manage to gain a lot of followers, your messages and conversations can reach millions of people in a matter of seconds. Not only can you connect to your publics very easily, but you can also listen to what they have to say and act accordingly. With that in mind it comes as no surprise that a Saudi billionaire invested $300m into Twitter today.
Especially celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears or Justin Bieber are big on Twitter and have several million followers. Today however, one of the biggest celebrities on the planet right now fell victim to a cyberattack that hijacked their Twitter account…
With over 17 million followers, Lady Gaga’s Twitter Account is one of the biggest accounts ever on Twitter, which is not surprising since she writes her own tweets. This gives people a feeling of being close to their star, like if they are having a conversation with a friend on the phone, or sending them an email. However, today her account got hacked.
Ever since, “she” is tweeting about free iPads and Macbook Pros for her followers if they clicked on a certain link. This link obviously leads to some dubious business sites and people quickly realised that her account has been hacked.
This send #Gagaspassword trending worldwide as the most popular topic shortly after the tweets have been published. According to Twitter:
“Twitter’s Trending Topics algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while”
So millions of people must have seen, read and responded to Lady Gaga’s (fake) tweets. This shows how powerful Twitter really is!
The attackers obviously didn’t expect so many people to follow their link since their website was not available and possibly crashed because of too many requests at the same time. However, this will make it easier to identify who was behind the attacks, once Gaga’s team as regained control over her account.
What can we learn from this for Public Relations practice? If you’re managing a Twitter account for your company or your client, make sure to have a strong and randomly generated password. If you lose control of the account to someone with bad intentions, the reputation and relation to your followers can be damaged within minutes. The advice to get a secure password probably seems like common sense to most people, but studies show that in 2011, the most commonly used password is still “password” followed by “123456″ and “12345678″.
So better change that password!
19.12.2011 – 19.30h: As of right now, the account is still tweeting those links. Let’s see how long it will take for Gaga and Twitter to react to this and if it has any effect on her followers. (followers: 17,112,278)
19.12.2011 – 20.15h: The hacking is finished. It took them a little over an hour to react. No change in the number of followers.