How To Not Get Hacked On Twitter

Photo By Flickr user AdamConner7
No, that isn’t a new bailout program. That’s a hacked Twitter account.

Just about everyone uses Twitter these days to find their news and connect with friends, and for some to troll celebrities and argue with strangers. Every major corporation, public figure, and entertainer is active on Twitter, which has been integrated into live newscasts, talk shows, and even leadership conferences and church services. There are millions of people on Twitter, with different agendas and perspectives and it is completely up to you who you follow and who you don’t.

With this many people all in one place (digitally, at least) we all fully expect someone to do something stupid, and someone to become a victim. The trick is to be neither of those people.

Photo from Flick User "azipaybarah"
Anthony Weiner claimed his Twitter account was hacked, but the truth was more revealing.

We’ve all heard about famous people caught doing things they shouldn’t be doing online and then blaming it on someone else. When a pro sports player tweets out a gay slur, he blames “hackers” for it. When an elected official sends lewd photos of himself to several women, he blames “hackers” (somehow). When restaurant owners appear unhinged in response to negative reviews of their establishment, yes Virginia, “hackers” strike again. The “hackers” boogyman is invoked so often that mere mortals may be inclined to forget they really exist. But not you. You read my blog, and you’re going to follow my advice.

How Not To Get Hacked On Twitter

Don’t Click Links in Direct Messages (DM’s). When you get a direct message on Twitter, ignore it. Always. The unwritten rule of Twitter is that we really don’t use direct messages. So when they appear, I know they’re probably not worth reading. The most famous hacks come in the form of “OMG Look at this picture of you” with a link attached… or, “I can’t believe they said this about you” or other variations. I get about 10-20 of these messages from people on Twitter every week, sometimes even more. People, do not click those links!

Don’t Click Links in Public Tweets Either. You suddenly have a new follower, they are following 2001 people, have 16 followers, and have tweeted a total of 6 times since the account opened today, about Rolex watches, making money from home, and free porn. Don’t click any of their links. Just don’t. This is a scam account. You do not need to click any link they are telling you about at any point in your life.

Don’t Follow Egg Logos. Look at the avatar for the account in question. If it is the default Twitter Egg, just ignore. Even an average scam artist will use a photo of a female model or impersonate a celebrity. A scam artist with the default egg logo is the twitter equivalent of that Nigerian prince that left you a million dollars via Western Union email in your spam folder. If you’re going to get scammed, they should at least have to work for it.

Don’t Stay Logged In At Work Or Anywhere Else. If there is a chance your login info is stored on a computer somewhere, someone can access your account and post whatever they want. They can tweet to everyone who follows you, send them DM’s, and even change your avatar photo and personal bio. Ouch. Log out and don’t let the computer store the info.

Use Different Passwords. Don’t use the same password for your email, online banking, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, and XBox live account. Once you’re done complaining about how hard it is to remember so many passwords, I want you to consider how incredibly stupid it is to use the same login information for all your accounts. Just think about it.

Don’t Log In Again, Unless You’re Logged Out. Suddenly you see a screen that wants you to log into your twitter account. Doesn’t that seem weird? If you’re logged in, why do you have to do this? You may be on a malicious site or a hacked site that is tricking you into giving up your account info. Be on the lookout!

Bonus: If Your Twitter Account Is Hacked… Then fix it. First, change your password. Then, go into your account settings and remove the permissions to apps and services you don’t trust or remember. If that still doesn’t work, contact Twitter, and check your computer for viruses. And don’t click any more links in DM’s!

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