What to Do If Your Twitter Account Has Been Hacked (and How to Prevent it From Happening)

Grandma was hacked.  Yikes that sounds like a bad horror movie.  But yes, I had my Twitter account hacked recently and it burned my bunions.

There are a couple different ways you can be hacked on Twitter.  Darn Twitter hackers. I’ll cover both types of hacking and show you what to do for each case.  Then I’ll give you tips on how to prevent hacking in the future.

1.  You start tweeting strange things or sending strange Direct Messages (DMs) without your permission.

The first way you’ve been hacked isn’t really a true hack.  You may start tweeting weird things or sending mass DMs to everyone you know.  But you still can log into your account and have access to it.

What has happened is you have somehow given permission to a bad Twitter Application.  Twitter Applications can be helpful to you to allow you to tweet from different platforms or to do some analysis on your account.  But some people program bad Apps that tweet strange things on your behalf.

Usually all it takes is to click on a strange Link and then the App takes over.  The hard thing is that these hackers make it very compelling to click on the link.  The offending link usually appears in your Direct Message folder from one of the people you are following (it could even be a friend you know well) telling you that someone is “posting strange things about you” or “check this out” with a link to the supposed story.


Twitter DMs

 

If you have accidentally clicked on a bad link, all you need to do is follow these steps:

1.  Go to Settings from the menu in the upper right corner of Twitter.

Twitter Settings

 

2.  Click Apps and then Revoke access on any Application you don’t recognize.  This is good practice every once in awhile anyway.  A good App can go bad from time to time so why give them control over your account?

Revoke access to Twitter apps

3.  Change your password just to be on the safe side.

4.  Delete any unwanted sent tweets.

You should be good to go!  You can also take a look at Twitter’s recommendations in their Help section for more information on this type of problem.

 

2.  You can’t log into your Twitter account – it’s been completely hijacked.

This type of hack is a true hack.  You are locked out of your Twitter account and some rogue person is tweeting for you.  They also may change your Twitter name, your User Name, your profile picture and everything so it doesn’t even look like you anymore.  They have effectively stolen your Twitter followers.

Twitter hacker screenshot

In this case what should you do?

1.  Start taking screenshots of your account ASAP.

You want to document that you were the original owner of this account.  Take some screenshots of your tweets that will help you document your case to send in to Twitter.

2.  If you still have some access through a third-party app, send some tweets to document your case.

I still had access through Hootsuite and was able to send some tweets.  I was also using other apps like Tweet Old Post  and Facebook to send tweets out.  But the hacker soon realized I had access and deleted those Apps so I couldn’t communicate anymore.

3.  Report the incident to Twitter right away.

Twitter has a place to report this here:  My Account has been hacked.  It took some time to hear back from them when I first reported it which was frustrating.  But they did respond after a day or two.  We went back and forth a little bit and I think having the screenshots to document my case helped.  The whole thing was resolved in less than a week.  Forever in the Twitterverse but really not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

How to Prevent Your Twitter Account from Being Hacked

How do you stop those sneaky hackers?  Here are some tips that can help:

1.  Don’t click on any strange links.  

Bad links are often in DMs but could also be in regular tweets.  Think before you click!  The difficult thing about Twitter is that URL shorteners are used so you can’t tell what website you are going to before you click.  There are a couple of plugins that can help on Firefox and Internet Explorer:

These free plugins give you a preview of the full link.

2.  Change your password regularly and use a strong password.

3.  Make sure you are on the Twitter.com site before logging in.

This scam is known as “phishing” where you are told you need to enter your name and password to verify your account but it’s really a way to steal your identity.  Watch out for this trick on your bank account information, too.  And you haven’t won the Nigerian lottery either.

4.  Add your mobile phone number to your account.

Twitter can verify your account if it’s been hacked through your mobile phone and restore your access quicker.  Just go to the Mobile area in your Settings, add your mobile number and then they will ask you to text GO to 40404 to verify.

Add mobile phone to Twitter

 

Next make sure you Uncheck all the crazy notifications you might receive via your phone.    Who wants a text message every time someone follow them??

Twitter mobile notifications

 

So there you have it.  Check in with some other “Safe Tweeting Recommendations” from Twitter to keep the hackers at bay.

How about you?  Have you had your Twitter account hacked?  What advice can you give to help our readers out there?  Let us know in the comments below.   Stay safe everyone!

PS.  If your Twitter account has been hacked – I cannot help restore your account.  You will have to contact Twitter!

About Grandma Mary

Grandma Mary is a slightly cranky Social Media Edutainer, helping small businesses leverage the power of social media. Learning social media is wayyy more fun with Grandma Mary.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnCosstick John Cosstick

    Hi Grandma Mary, Thanks for this post. It fills a clear need for guidelines for victims of hackers using Twitter. However, the last scare has lost prominence and it may take another prominent event to occur to raise interest again. I will share this article across my social media platforms.
    Thank you.
    Regards
    John Cosstick

  • BeckyFlansburg

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing this Gramma!

  • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

    Use times Grandma Mary! I just checked my apps and I had about 100 that had access to my account so a good reminder to clean up!

  • Vatsala

    I often receive direct messages from folks that I start to follow offering me freebies if I click a link. Your tips will make me think twice, especially if the person who has sent the message has had their account hacked. Have shared it on my Facebook Page to alert my fans. Thank you for the much needed and timely advice!

  • http://twitter.com/ClearwaterPatsy Clearwater Creations

    Someone hacked my Twitter account but just by sending out DM’s. I found out by getting a lot of messages from people I followed. They told me to change my password, which I did. Now I’m going to go and check which apps have access and clean that up! Thanks for the great post.

  • Olayinka Olatunji

    Can som1 pls help out. This happened to me about a year ago & til now I Avnt bn able to recover my acct

  • zodiac legend

    Go to twitter(dot)com/account/begin_password_reset
    then hopefully you can reset your password.

    If you are unable to recover your account – email abuse @ twitter . com and report the profile as hacked.

  • Jessica

    My Twitter account has been
    compromised by another account that has stolen all my tweets, followings, followers…. I still have the original email
    address associated with my account that i signed up but I have lost over 1,500 tweets, 5K in
    followers and they have wiped out the 1,700 people that I was following. I have
    tried to get Twitter’s help throught support forms but I just get standard generic emails. I hope twitter will solve my
    problem as soon as possible. How can I get Twitter’s help quickly?