If you follow Burger King on Twitter then you may have noticed some odd goings on recently.
Instead of being sold to McDonalds like their tweets claimed, Burger King was actually hacked by hacker collective Anonymous last Monday. Then on Thursday a group of Anonymous supporters were hacked too. And not by a disgruntled lover of everything Burger King, but by a rival hacktivist group called Rustle League.
The whole hacking thing really took off in 2012 with plenty of headlines relating to hacktivists. I find the whole thing a bit Hollywood, and pretty interesting.
Now, I’ve never been hacked or even ‘fraped’ for that matter, so I probably would take a different attitude to hacking if I was the butt of its joke, but the idea of hacktivists making political points and standing up for their beliefs I find to be all rather romantic.
However, a shift away from the freedom of speech and radical change movement is in process, with many hackers preferring profit over politics, and has led to a number of Anonymous members being arrested.
Twitter hacks are pretty high profile – Burger King aren’t alone – Jeep, Jeremy Clarkson, NBC News, USA Today, Donald Trump and the Westboro Baptist Church have all been hacked. Although pretty funny to those of us not involved, this can be very damaging (and embarrassing) to the integrity of a brand.
Twitter are taking the whole thing quite seriously… as well they should (you can read their advice on how to not become a victim of hackers here). An estimated 90% of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, and brands that pay to advertise on Twitter are not given any extra security measures.
If I was the brand manager of a major brand I’d be pretty scared of having everything I’d worked for wrecked by someone who is basically an internet pirate – hijacking the good ship twitter and blundering around for whatever booty they can find – but would I stop my advertising… ? No.
Why? Because hacking sometimes does some good too.
When Anonymous hacked into Westboro Baptist Church members’ Twitter accounts, Twitter suspended @YourAnonNews in retaliation. They were later reinstated – unscathed and with an extra 100,000 followers.
Burger King gained 30,000 new followers from their hacking experience – plus conversations about Burger King were up a whopping (pun intended) 300% with 450,000 tweets about the brand.
So perhaps the advice to brands should be forget security (or just tweet some insane nonsense/trash talk your brand and blame it on a hacker) and watch your followers shoot through the roof.
I truly believe in the old saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’, and this is just another case that prove my point.
What do you think? Have you been hacked? Is it all a bit of fun or is it more serious than that?