Fox News Twitter Hack: Social Media Never Sleeps

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

Fox News ChannelTwitter and social media in general continue to amaze me. Just when I think I have it all figured out something out of left field hits me like a brick. This week’s stunning social media blunder is brought to you by Fox News. In the wee hours of yesterday morning, the Fox News political twitter account (@foxnewspolitics) was “hacked” by an unknown ne’er-do-well who posted that President Barack Obama is dead. Not cool. With almost 40,000 followers and a viral effect that makes ebola look tame, six convincing tweets made it out to the social universe and weren’t caught by Fox News people for 10 hours.

First of all, I think saying their twitter account was “hacked” is a bit dramatic. When I think of something being hacked, I think about firewalls being compromised and credit cards being stolen. In this case, somebody figured out their twitter password. Figuring out a password can be done in a few different ways such as reading it off of a Post-it note stuck on a computer monitor, guessing it because the password itself was lame, or somebody used a password-cracking program. My guess is the password wasn’t treated with the respect it deserved by Fox News as social media and twitter are looked at as “cute toys” by a lot of professionals in the news industry.

To me this event is much more than an account security issue. The lesson to be learned here is one that will continue to be taught until social media gets the same respect that a 24/7 news channel gets. Essentially, social media is a beast that never sleeps. Why did it take Fox News 10 hours to discover the breach in security and delete the posts? Is it a lack of respect I mentioned before? It seems to me that Fox News didn’t give their twitter account the same level of dedication and commitment they give to their cable news channel. I’ll bet they do now.

So, what are the implications for a marketing professional like you? Since social media never sleeps, you now need policies and guidelines as to how much of it you want to monitor and how often. You have to decide what merits your attention, how you will respond and how fast. In so many ways, social media is akin to good old-fashioned public relations and its sister crisis communications but with a twist: your audience talks back in real-time.

Brand monitoring is one of the cornerstones of our social media framework and we believe that, before you put a monitoring system in place, you need clearly defined guidelines on how you will use it. I know, I know. You’re probably saying, “You mean I have to add 24/7 monitoring to everything else I have to do?!” Well, I’m afraid the answer is yes. However, you’re already monitoring your website for downtime 24/7, aren’t you? Of course you are, only you probably have hired somebody to do it for you. So, never fear. We’ve got the resources to take care of monitoring your brand so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Questions? Give me a shout.

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