22Feb2013

Hacking: a new trend in social media?

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Everyone seems to be talking about Burger King and Jeep this week, possibly more than ever! If you haven’t heard, Burger King and Jeep were victims of a Twitter hack.

Personally, I don’t think that these Twitter hacks should be seen in such a negative light. The hacking of Burger King’s Twitter account generated around 450,000 tweets and the amount of followers increased by over 25,000. Companies usually have to comply with such strict rules and guidelines for their social media accounts that any outrageous behaviour is shunned. Contrary to popular belief however, people love it when brands on Twitter go slightly out of the box, despite the contentious and arguably offensive material. This unconventional use of Twitter demonstrates why the Burger King and Jeep hacking has been an excellent source of publicity for the brands, allowing them to successfully deflect the blame.

Brands which have been hacked receive an influx of retweets and attention, so much so that they start to trend worldwide and they subsequently gain invaluable social media coverage; news articles, blog posts and publicity via other social networks.

These hacks, which are often blanket-termed negative, actually turn out to reap hugely positive benefits from essentially free advertising!

MTV and BET also claimed to targeted by hacking earlier this year. However, the public later discovered that it was a publicity stunt, initiated by the brands themselves! Whilst this may seem like a flawless idea, guaranteed to gain free advertising coverage, the negative backlash was significant. Both MTV and BET received significant negative coverage all over the media. People attempted to make a new hashtage trend; #fakehackedswag. Such negative reaction from the public can be harrowing and brand respect and trust is difficult to restore.

However, we found ourselves asking the question, does this really matter? Surely they still received all the attention? Press is still press after all – whether it be good or bad.

To be honest, I think it’s becoming a bit boring now. Donald Trump made his opinions very clear after his Twitter was hacked. Hackers tweeted lyrics from a Lil Wayne song to over 2 million followers. As an individual rather than a brand, Trump would have felt more personally violated.  Trump’s spokesman, Michael Cohen said that authorities were investigating who was behind it. Trump sent a follow up Tweet that read, “My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators.”

Who is behind it?

We don’t even know whether it is one division, such as Anonymous who are doing the hacking, or whether the idea has gone viral, causing others to want to do it. It could even  be the brands themselves (although I think MTV and BET have put people off this media-hungry idea). Speculators have suggested that it is a geeky teenager who has quite literally guessed his/her way into the Twitter account, posting somewhat immature Tweets such as “We just got sold to McDonald’s! Look for McDonald’s in a hood near you” and “If I catch you at Wendys, we’re fighting.”

Hopefully these hacks are coming to an end. In the meantime, keep your passwords safe ;)

 

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