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What does the Twitter hack tell us about social media archiving

The recent Twitter hack was a harsh reminder to us all that social media platforms are vulnerable, and that attacks can directly impact brand and reputation.

The Twitter hack on 15 July 2020 was a harsh reminder to us all that social media platforms are vulnerable, and that attacks can directly impact brand and reputation. If you’re playing in that sandpit, you’re taking risks, but the risks can be minimised by making sure you have an accurate record of what you really said on social media. 

What we’ve seen – once again – is that hacks and attacks can come out of the blue, with no warning. Hackers are endlessly creative, so the choice seems clear: either stop using social media or put something in place to minimise the risk. 

According to @TwitterSupport in their 16 July 2020 thread, the hack was likely a ‘coordinated social engineering attack’. The result was that the hackers were able to  take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf

Screen grab of post from @twittersupport

The rise in social media use

Covid-19 is just the latest of many factors that’s causing organisations to rely more heavily on social media channels to communicate with their customers and communities. Not all the reasons are as dire as the pandemic. Usage was already on the rise as social media provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with people on their own terms, using channels they access every day. 

What better way to reach people, than via a channel they like, on a device they carry with them everywhere. 

For this reason alone, the option to ‘stop using social media’ may not be suitable for most organisations. 

‘Authentic’ – says who?

The July Twitter attack targeted 130 high profile users. All of them had the blue tick of authenticity beside their names. This tick signals to people on Twitter that the profile is authentic, and therefore can be trusted. This hack has undermined our trust in the blue tick and is just the latest event to call into question what ‘authentic’ really means on social media

Trust and social media have an uneasy relationship. One team of researchers in the USA found that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are three of the most distrusted sources of news. Yet the research by Pew Research Centre also shows that people “who say social media sites are their ‘most common” way of getting this news evince more trust in those sites…’ 

So if people don’t trust social media, they really don’t trust social media. And if they rely on social media for their news, they trust it quite a bit. Those two facts sit in a puzzling tension, but the fact remains that people often trust what they read on social media, particularly if they have, or feel they have, a connection to the person or organisation publishing content.

Reputation on social media

Assuming your organisation can’t or won’t stop using social media, stories like this one add an unfair burden of anxiety to using a communication channel. Maybe it’s time to take out some insurance, by investing in a social media archiving tool like Brolly. 

Hack attacks that create, delete or edit posts

As we saw in the Twitter hack, an attacker may access an account in order to post misleading, fraudulent or inflammatory content, pretending to do so as the account’s owner.  For some platforms, such as Facebook, it’s possible to edit a post after it is published. On those platforms, a hacker could go back through your published posts and modify them to say something you would never say.

How an archive can help: If you are archiving in real time then your archive will show what has been created, edited or deleted during the period of time when the hacker was active. This helps you take action to hide or remove posts, comments and messages as appropriate. 

Fake posts and fake deletions

In separate news items in the first half of 2020, two USA congresswomen were falsely accused of publishing and then deleting inflammatory posts. Turns out, it never happened. An attack of this kind can do a great deal of damage to a reputation. 

In a false claim in February 2020, a low resolution image of an inflammatory ‘deleted post’ was circulated and attributed to Rashida Tlaib

A false claim in July 2020 accused another congresswoman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of publishing and then deleting an inflammatory Tweet on the subject of re-opening business during Covid-19. 

How an archive can help: Brolly provides an excellent insurance policy against these kinds of false accusations. That’s because a Brolly archive captured in real time will provide details of every action made in a social media account. That makes it very easy to check whether a post was published and then deleted. A true record of your organisation’s social media activity could be the difference between irreversible damage to reputation and the peace of mind that you can prove you didn’t publish and delete that damaging post. 

Insurance? Or more?

Brolly provides a seamless way to comply with recordkeeping laws, as it captures records and tracks activity in your social media accounts. While it ticks that compliance box perfectly, Brolly can also be an insurance policy for social media managers and leadership teams concerned with brand and reputation. 

Additional benefits include the consolidation of all your social media records in the Brolly feed, so that you can search and filter for keywords, including hashtags. 

If your business is engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube and you’re not already archiving social media records, today is a very good day to start a Brolly trial. 

Brolly’s 30 day trial is a simple sign up, completely free (no credit card required) and gets your archive started from the minute you connect your social media. 

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