Posted by Monica Worsley
The Associated Press Stylebook is full of valuable lessons for journalists. Its Twitter page highlights some of the thousands of entries found within this “journalist’s bible” and they regular appear as “AP Style tip” tweets.
However, the most recent lesson from the @APStylebook is valuable for more than just current and aspiring journalists.
A post on the @APStylebook Twitter account last Tuesday read “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barak Obama Injured.”
The tweet was false.
But the lesson about maintaining an online presence and password security were very real.
The Huffington Post reported that the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for hacking into the account and tweeting around 1 p.m., on April 23, 2013.
Because the Associated Press is considered a dependable source this tweet caused concern, which the company quickly quelled after acknowledging the tweet was false.
As a result of the event Twitter identified “news media organizations as ‘high value targets’ for hackers.” The social media site sent a memo to journalists and new media organization that included several suggestions of ways to keep accounts secure. A few of the suggestions are:
1. Never send passwords via email, even internally
2. Designate one computer to use for Twitter so the password is not appearing on multiple devices
3. Check for signs of compromise regularly to addresses potential problems
4. In the case of a hacking, contact Twitter immediately with copies of suspected phishing emails
5. Create a formal incident response plan
A complete copy of the memo appears at “Twitter Warns Journalists That News and Media Organizations Are ‘High Value Target’ For Hackers.”
I found this incident to be worthy of mention after the conversation it has generated nationally. I also think it is a great topic to remind our class what we learned at the beginning of our J70 course. When I read about this event I thought of our class discussion about maintaing a social media presence. We looked at examples of people tweeting on the wrong account and writing tweets that lack tact.
Did you hear about this incident last week? What was your initial reaction? Do you see any similarity in how a company might handle a public relations issue due to hacking and/or misuse of social media? Do you think the advice Twitter offered journalists and news media organizations sound advice for dealing with an account hacking?