What the AP Twitter Hack Means for Your Business

AP Hacked TwitterBack on April 23rd, Twitter, the media and the stock market saw something bizarre. At 1:07 p.m. ET, @AP, the official Twitter handle of the Associated Press tweeted the following:

“Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

Though the AP almost immediately rectified the situation by removing the tweet and explaining that it had been hacked, the fraudulent tweet was up for about four minutes. In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, the stock market went crazy – the Dow Industrials sank 72 points in seconds.

What Does it Mean for Business?

Later, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility, via Twitter, for the tweet. At that point, however, the damage to the market had been done. It is clearer now than it has ever been before that social media has a profound effect on business. Certainly, you notice these effects more easily when it’s on a macro level, but have you considered what social media and the 24 hour news cycle mean for your small business?

What it means is that one tweet, one short news blurb, a single bad review or even a completely bizarre Facebook post could change the trajectory of your small business indefinitely. Here’s what we can take away from the AP Twitter Hack:

  • Security is important no matter who you are. But especially if you are a small business with some kind of image out there. If it can happen to the Associated Press, it can happen to you. Investors and consumers are not too keen on rogue tweets.
  • Furthermore, in this day and age, “I’ve been hacked!” is the last thing anybody wants to hear. It was an excuse that worked the first 400 times, but now – thank you Anthony Weiner and Amy’s Baking Company – “I was hacked!” gives the impression that you’re grasping at straws to explain why you said something offensive on social media.
  • Finally, if your Twitter or Facebook is hack-able, it may signal to your customers and investors that you have a greater security problem to deal with. If someone can find your Twitter password, does that mean that they can eventually gain access to your bank accounts or other sensitive information? Everything is done online these days, and it is so important that your small business project the image that you know what you’re doing. 
What lessons can you takeaway from the AP Twitter Hack? Has your social media ever been hacked?
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A teacher by trade, Elizabeth LaBelle graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2011. After specializing in Political Science and Francophone Studies with a minor in Korean, the only tangible skill she can show for it is the ability to write in all three languages. Elizabeth never thought she would get paid to write in any language – but after four years washing dishes in an industrial kitchen and a year selling office supplies door-to-door, nothing surprises her. When she’s not writing or teaching, Elizabeth coaches high school debate and forensics. Her hobbies include thoroughbred racing, competitive pool playing and hunting for the perfect Chicago apartment.

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