Open Season Ending For Social Media Hackers

Twitter Hoax Causes Market Decline–Washington Post


Following a recent slew of high profile Twitter accounts being hacked, the popular social media outlet is beefing up its security efforts.  If the company were to allow for the same security measures to remain in place, it would not only be damaging its own reputation, but it’s very operations would be ignoring a major ethical concern surrounding people’s right to privacy.

People are posting more and more of their personal information on the internet and social media outlets for various reasons and in varying capacities every day.  Naturally, such a movement has led to a simultaneous leap in presence of hackers.  The danger of social media hacking does lie solely in loss of personal data, however.

Individuals are now relying on social media as a primary source of news.  Inaccuracies in what is posted by seemingly reputable sources then has the potential to make for major overreactions and misunderstandings.  This is evidenced in the recent Twitter hackings of members of the Associated Press (AP) that led to several different incidents of false information being spread via the social media site.

Recently, false posts from a hacked AP account contributed to a stock market decline.  A hacker (following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombings) posted untrue information regarding an explosion at the White House.  He even went so far as to say that President Obama was hurt in the explosion.  Reactions to the news led to the aforementioned drop in the S&P 500 that saw a $136 billion dollar decline in market value.  This news is especially threatening to Twitter considering it was only a few months ago that the sharing of market-sensitive data was made legal on the social media site.

These sort of issues directly speak to the need for greater security measures to be taken by Twitter to ensure that private information and accounts are not compromised.  In response to the recent account hackings, Twitter has begun to take proactive steps to ensure that these sorts of issues do not continue.  New security measures are to include a multi-step authentication process that may even include identification codes being sent to account owner’s cell phones that must be utilized in order to be granted access to one’s Twitter account.

The increase in security measures is a great move, but it would appear that such a step is long overdue.  As we learned in class, proper planning steps could have addressed the potential for these ethical issues originally and saved the hassle now.  Individuals and companies entrust Twitter with personal information with the assumption that they will be protected from hackers and the like.  If Twitter or any other site is unable to live up to such assumptions, a very serious ethical issue could cause the reliability and credibility it has attained to be lost.

What other steps can Twitter take?  Do reports of these sorts of issues make you wary of the credibility of Twitter sources?