Well, the latest high-profile Twitter hacking incident went down Friday by the Syrian Electronic Army which compromised multiple sites including The Onion and the Financial Times, including the FT’s website and its Twitter feeds. The FT’s Twitter account was used for something, albeit political, that was categorically horrific and uniquely puke-inducing. Even if your skin is thick I would advise against trying to dig up more on that, and if you have any related links, please do not post them in the comments.

There have been more in between, but this comes on the heels of the Associated Press’s account which tweeted a presidential assassination scare that smashed the Dow down 200 points. These incidents, which include other presidential assassination tweets years back, make up a rather long and colorful list which will continue to grow briskly.

The frequency of these incidents would have been greatly mitigated had Twitter implemented two-step verification. Not a new concept, large-scale implementations arrived years ago. It’s a nuisance most Outlook.com and Gmail users would prefer to live without, but major Twitter accounts of the AP and other media outlets and celebrities, accounts that can be hijacked for a political platform or to cause panic, many of those account holders would be willing to take the extra step to log in if it means fending off the likes of these folks. Without that feature, evidently, having a Twitter account associated with your organization is a significant liability both to you and to everyone, one worth reconsidering.

There have been rumors for months that Twitter is rolling this multi-step authentication system out to those who want it but there is still no sign of it, just talk. Especially given what has already happened, this is an obviously urgent feature to roll out and then to educate users about aggressively. However complicated it may be to pull that off, taking years to continue to fail to figure it out and make it happen is weirdly negligent and by any measure simply unacceptable.

Doug Simmons

3 COMMENTS

  1. Agreed. With my three followers, I am not much of a target for hackers. But for the big players, this is an absolute necessity. Should be a top priority for Twitter, unless they believe these hacks are good for business. That would be an entirely different problem.

  2. Good for business, didn’t even occur to me — or at least not really that bad for business. Maybe there’s just not much for them to get out of it. If that were actually the case, how could such a problem be fixed?

  3. Paraphrasing here, but someone said, “any publicity is good publicity, especially if it’s free”. If this is the case with Twitter, they are playing with fire. Or more precisely, plutonium fuel rods. But they are big boys, and should understand the potential consequences.

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