Twitter and FTC Settle Over Hacked Accounts


Twitter has settled with the Federal Trade Commission after complaints that some of its accounts were hacked. The FTC claimed that “serious lapses” in data security at the social media site had allowed hackers to infiltrate users’ Twitter accounts and send out fake tweets. Just 55 of them were accessed, 45 in January 2009, and 10 in April of the same year. One of those, however, happened to be that of President Obama.

The site was breached when hackers used an automated tool to guess the site’s administrative password, hitting the jackpot when “a weak, lower-case, common dictionary word” came up. Twitter’s counsel, Alexander Macgillivray pointed to the fact that, at that time, his client employed just 50 people. “Put simply, we were the victim of an attack, and user accounts were improperly accessed,” he said in a statement.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter closed the security hole within hours of the attack, and says that it has already put many of the FTC’s suggestions into practice, as well as agreeing to a security assessment every other year by a third party. “The agreement formalizes our commitment to those security practices,” said Mr Macgillivray.

But where might this leave popular Twitter accounts such as @BPGlobalPR? Could the FTC ruling mean that firms or individuals have a way of closing down accounts that they don’t like so much? FastCompany contacted Twitter for comment but, at time of publishing, they had not responded.