In this post, i want to share a story that happened in the last few days to us which apparently also happened to a lot more people/organizations over the past few years: Our official Twitter account has been hacked, spammed to death and eventually got suspended by Twitter (don’t worry, there’s a happy end to the story).
Just like many other businesses/websites/blogs, our Twitter account became an essential part of our day-to-day online activities whether if its to announce about something, update about new post or just Tweet about something interesting. Because of its importance, i want to present all the stages of this (tragic?) affair.
Part 1: Granting Access To Third Party App
We are working with few online publishing content platforms (free+paid) that let us publish content legitimately around the web easily and fast. Almost all of these third party apps provide great service and the paid ones occasionally generate great return for our investment. Almost all, Except of one.
Before engaging with such apps, i always conduct a due diligence to determine the quality of the service and if its fits our needs. I can honestly say that most of the time I’m pretty accurate but all it takes is just one time to make a mistake that can damage all your hard work. And so, i decided to engage with a third party app that i shouldn’t have engage with.
I granted access to my Twitter account to an unknown third party publishing content platform which i thought (or hoped) that could offer some extra value without examining it deeper and more thorough. And on the virtual world where many malicious forces are hanging around, there is no room for such errors.
Part 2: Hacked and Spammed
Back on Sunday, i noticed a very unusual activity in our Twitter account at early morning- During the night, an exceptional amount of followers have been added to our account. At first, i didn’t attributed it to any irregular activity from OUR side of the account as it didn’t occur to me we did something at all.
I associated the irregular activity to a new very famous follower or that someone that famous mentioned us on the micro-blogging social network and so, i continued to enjoy my weekend. But a few hours later when i opened the account again and saw for the first time that we have began following ourselves massive amount of people and as well sent a lot of spam Tweets.
I immediately revoked the access of ALL of our third party apps and changed the password of our account. But it was too late, the damage already been done.
Part 3: Your Account Has Been Suspended
Not so long after i revoked the access of any other services and changed our password, one of the most frustrating and even depressing things has happened to our long beloved hard working once respected Twitter account. It got suspended due to violation of Twitter’s terms of service. When i opened my email, i saw this message from Twitter:
When i saw this message i felt like the social sky is falling. After so much hard work, our Twitter account was gone. I never had any experience with it before, so i didn’t knew if it was lost forever (with all its data) or i still have a chance to bring it back to life. I chose to stick with hope. Therefore, i swallowed my pride and did the one thing i could have do: Beg.
Part 4: Please Activate My Account Again!
I began to research about the issue and as i discovered, apparently these kind of things happened a lot and this isn’t something uncommon. I found out that i had to fill an account suspended form where i should describe the actions the led to the suspension and promise i won’t engage with such activities in the future (manually or automatically through apps).
Right after i sent the form, i received an automatic email which i had to respond to, in order to open a ticket in Twitter support. Couple of hours later i received another email, this time from an actual person from Twitter support team, that asked me to reply to the email and confirm (again) i will not engage with automatic following applications and discontinue this kind of behavior myself.
Part 5: You Are Un-Suspended
Two days later i received an email informing me that our account has been reactivated. The sky returned to their fine blue color, the sun warmed me up again, i could breath smoothly, the web felt like a great place for business like before and i even found myself enjoying eating more (too exaggerated?).
Although we have lost many followers (that been spammed or saw our suspended account), i have to say it feels great getting back to (social) game! Also, i have to praise Twitter for their quick reaction and dealing with the issue with great understanding and professionalism. I hope i will never have to witness their excellent suspended accounts support team service ever again…