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Are Your Prepared if Your Organization's Twitter Account is Hacked?

This past 4th of July, the Fox News Political twitter account had some premature fireworks go off, and they weren't a good display. If you didn't hear about the story, you can check it out here. If you want the cliff notes version, a group hacked into their site, and sent out some very disturbing tweets about President Obama. See below:

(source = NYTimes)

According to the NYTimes article, "the six messages were removed around noon on Monday, about 10 hours after being posted, but not before attracting a flurry of attention."

In our real-time world, 10 hours with live tweets such as this is more like 10 days. Argh! If you are the Twitter administrator for your organization, here are five ways you can ready yourself for a potential hack, and what actions to take if it actually happens.

1. Above all, realize Twitter for your organization is not a M - F, 9 - 5 operation. Twitter lives and breathes 365 days/24 hours. Even after you punch out, you have to keep an eye on what is going on. In the time of a hack, every minute counts and every minute lost can damage your brand.

2. As the administrator for your Twitter account, don't be the sole holder of the keys to your Twitter kingdom. Have a backup. Additionally, make sure you communicate within your organization that your are the administrator, and who your backup is. A hack is not the time for people to be running around chasing you down.

3. Familiarize yourself now with Twitter's processes for dealing with a hack so you aren't trying to figure things out when under fire. Here's what to do if you can still log-in to your account, what to do if you can't log-in, and what to do if you don't have access to the account's registered email. If you still can't get access to your account, you can reach out to Twitter's help center.

4. If a hack happens, and you can access your account, delete all fake tweets, and have a plan in place for responding to the public. DON'T just ignore what happened and go into hiding. Show how responsive and proactive you are by being transparent, apologetic, and answer any questions from followers up front. In the end, how you handle the crisis will speak reams about your communication and follow-through abilities.

5. Finally, learn straight up from the mistakes of others: How Not to Handle a Crisis: 5 Lessons From the Fox News Twitter Hack

*Something easy to watch out for: as the administrator, if you receive an email saying your Twitter log-in has changed, and you are aware no one else has the log-in, check it out immediately.

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