By Annie Burnham
There is now no question about the effect that social media has on business. This week the US saw firsthand that Twitter can create chaos for the economy. Tuesday, around 1 p.m. EST, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked and sent out a tweet that said, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” The tweet remained up for almost three minutes and was retweeted more than 1850 times.
The Syrian Electronic Army, the group claiming responsibility for the @AP hack, is also suspected of hacking @60minutes and @CBSDenver. We have heard more and more about Twitter accounts being hacked and causing mayhem in the last few months. What long-term impacts will this have on business use of the social media site?
These most recent hacks bring to light several questions. The first one is why hasn’t Twitter found a way to beef up security for Twitter accounts – especially of prominent organizations in society? One must also ask what potential threats do fake tweets pose for the economy? We saw the DOW drop 144 points in seconds, all based on a fake tweet!
One article from The Telegraph in the UK commented on the fact that this issue isn’t with the account getting hacked so much as it is about humanity as a whole relying too much on technology. The computers that run the stock exchange move so fast that stock brokers cannot possibly keep up with the constantly changing pace. Another major concern is that if something is online, it can be hacked. In 2010, during the “flash crash,” a rogue algorithm wiped one trillion dollars from the stock shares.
With the constant developments in social media, companies are going to have to be more careful with monitoring their accounts. This occurrence on Tuesday has left businesses wondering if the business world has become too dependent on social media.
Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and of computer and information science at Cornell University, says the AP Twitter hack is the latest evidence that social media has grown up.
USA Today interviewed Hancock about the drop in the market this week after the Twitter hack. “Our trust of social media has reached new levels. It’s amazing that things like social media have gone from something the ‘kids do’ to affecting how the market operates,” said Hancock. “This response also highlights that humans have a built in [sic] truth bias to believe what others say. Although there is a lot of suspicion about the Internet in general, the truth bias is alive and well with social media.”