Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

How to recover from a damaging Twitter hack

You’ve spent months, maybe even years, building a strong Twitter following. People trust your tweets, making it an important channel for getting messages to, and talking with, your audience.

All of a sudden, that audience warns you that you’re spamming them and, more worryingly, some of them are leaving. The relationship you’ve carefully nurtured is under attack because your Twitter account has been hacked.

Click here to see the steps you need to take to regain control over your Twitter account.

Once you’ve re-established control, the next step is to assess the damage done and begin repairing it.

Identify the source of the hack

It’s essential that you understand how your account was hacked, because this could point to future vulnerabilities. The possibilities are:

  • It was a ‘playful’ hack by someone you know.
  • It was a malicious hack by someone with a grievance.
  • It was an external hack using your password.
  • It was an external hack via a third party app or website.

Knowing how you were hacked helps you assess the risk of it happening again, the potential damage it could cause, and what steps you could take to protect your account.

Repairing your reputation

Most hackers want to take advantage of the trust you’ve built up with your followers. They send out messages in your name, containing links they want your followers to click on, often links to damaging or dangerous content.

You’re likely to lose some followers when you’re hacked, particularly if the messages going out in your name contain offensive content. Worse, some followers may choose to block your account.

The first step, once you’ve regained control of your account and stopped the hackers, is to send out apology tweets. Don’t just send one, because many of your followers will miss it. Depending on the scale and duration of the attack, you may want to send out several apologies over a period of days.

Where individual followers have been sent Direct Messages (DMs) you may want to apologise directly to them, via a DM. If they’ve unfollowed you, making a DM impossible, send them a ‘mention’ tweet (with their Twitter name in it). If they’ve blocked you, no tweets will get through to them. Perhaps you need to use another method to get in touch.

Turning the bad into good

Having your Twitter account hacked may be an uncomfortable experience, but recovery can be swift. It could also open new opportunities to engage with your followers.

Don’t be afraid to blog about it, telling readers how it happened and how you fixed it. Many of your followers have been, or will be, hacked. Your post could give them tips for protecting against being hacked and reassurance that, while frustrating, it doesn’t have to be a major crisis.

Admitting to being hacked may require swallowing a little pride, but it’s happened to many others, including leading brands. Your experience of being hacked could fuel interesting discussions at networking meetings, or on Twitter itself, with your followers or through online networking. 

Having been hacked once, you’ll want to do all you can to ensure it doesn’t happen again, so click here for tips on how to protect your Twitter account in the future.

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