What to do when your Twitter account gets hacked

Bruce WilsonWhen your followers start receiving spammy direct messages from you via Twitter (“I just made $541.23 working from home! Click here to see how!“) it’s time to take quick action. You’ve been hacked.

Oh yes, and when you find yourself on the receiving end of such messages, please take pity on your friend(s) and share with them what they need to do. You know the four-step process, right?

#1: Change your password! Log in to Twitter.com, and choose Settings > Password from the menu on the top right (where you see your account name and icon).

#2: Reconsider all 3rd party applications that have access to your Twitter account. One of them could have opened a window that your hacker crawled through. Maybe you haven’t done this before, but a lot of us have given one or more third party applications permission to access our Twitter accounts. This allows us to do things like send Tweets to and from other sites (examples include LinkedIn, Facebook, Hootsuite, and some contests), or sign in to a site using Twitter (perhaps to comment on a blog). It’s even possible you’ve done this and didn’t notice, or don’t remember. Whether or not you’re certain, go to Setting > Applications to check what’s there. Revoke the access of any applications that you don’t recognize or don’t need (if not all of them).

#3: This same list will serve as your reminder that you’ll need to re-authorize access for the applications you want to keep. They’ll stop working for you until you give them your new Twitter password, naturally.

#4: Check to see who “you” sent direct messages to. Bring closure on this whole drama, and show you really do care, by owning up. Choose between sending personal notes, emails, or just a general Tweet, and apologize for your hacker’s rude behavior. Also, you may want to warn recipients not to open any links they received from “you” (although your hacker’s sentence structure alone may have warned away everyone already).

For extra credit, here’s Twitter’s own FAQ for this situation:
http://support.twitter.com/entries/31796-my-account-has-been-compromised

If you’re reading this while currently in the throes of agony: hang in there, I know it’s is a big pain! But this too shall pass.

Any other advice the people reading this post should know about? Please add it below.

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