Unfortunately, this scenario is a reality for all of us who use social networking — it’s not a matter of IF your Twitter or Facebook account will be hacked, but simply WHEN. I’ve been on the receiving end of messages from my friends whose accounts have been hacked. The message typically compliments me on some body part or requests me to click on a link to view a video of myself. Also, there are usually a number of misspellings in the message.
Be very careful when you get those kinds of messages, even when they are coming from trusted friends who would normally not engage in this type of behavior. Many of the messages are linked to a virus or some type of malware that either infects your computer or will gain access to your account and send all of your friends and followers spammy messages. If you do slip and click on one of these links, pay attention to what your virus scanning software tells you, especially if you get a security warning about a site.
If your Twitter account is hacked:
1. Visit Twitter’s information page for problem resolution: https://help.twitter.com/forums/10713/entries/31796
2. Log out of Twitter.
3. Clear your browser cache (your browsing history and cookies and private info) and close down your browser.
For Internet Explorer: Go to Tools > Internet Options, and then click on the “Delete” button under Browsing History. Check all of the boxes (except InPrivate Filtering data) and click on the “Delete” button.
For Firefox: Go to Tools > Clear Recent History, and then click on the down-arrow next to “Details”, check all of the boxes, and select “Everything” for the time range to clear.
4. Open a new browser window, log into Twitter, and change your password. You can also use the Twitter password reset feature to set a new password before logging in again.
5. Visit your settings page and check your Connections. Revoke access for any third-party application that you don’t recognize.
6. Submit a support request to let them know you have taken all of the proper steps to reset your account and to request that your direct messaging capability be restored. You can also include info on any statuses that weren’t posted by you in the body of the request.
7. Update your password in all of your third party applications as well. If a third party application (like Facebook, Twitterrific, Twhirl, etc.) is trying to use your old password to access your tweets, it will lock you out of your account.
If your Facebook account is hacked:
1. Visit Facebook’s information page for problem resolution: https://www.facebook.com/help/search.php?hq=hack&ref=hq
2. If you are still able to access your login email address, then use the “Forgot your password” link to prompt an email from Facebook with a password reset code. If you can’t access your account, then use the link above.
3. Clear your browser cache (your browsing history and cookies and private info) and close down your browser as described above.
4. Your account could also have been phished/hacked by a phishing web site, worm, or malicious software. To ensure that all is safe again, refer to the “Warnings” section on the Facebook link noted above.
Part of the problem with Twitter, in particular, is that most people use some type of URL shortening service to reduce a long URL to one that they can easily include in their 140 character status update. Here’s how you can “spy” on URL shortening services:
1. For Bit.ly: This tool is a Firefox Add-on allows you to hover over bit.ly links on any web page and see a “Preview” of the page title and long URL: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10297 This Add-on claims to work for TinyURL as well. One of the benefits of this add-on is that you can also see the number of clicks for the shortened links as well as bios/profiles for host’s Twitter names you hover over (including @names). This even works in my HootSuite account.
2. For TinyURL: You can preview where a TinyURL.com URL leads either by adding the word “preview” in your short link so that your link resembles: https://preview.tinyurl.com/samplesite . Or, you can visit https://tinyurl.com/preview.php to enable TinyURL previews.
Take care when using Twitter and Facebook. Trust your intuition, and if something doesn’t look or feel right, ignore it or delete it before clicking on it. You will have probably saved yourself hours or headache in trying to restore a hacked account.
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