Corporate Twitter accounts are an unusual animal; they are often designed to engage with followers in a friendly and informal voice, to dispel the notion that just because it is a tool used by a giant money-making machine, doesn’t mean to say that every single customer isn’t important. However, every now and then, that voice can get a little too informal, and that’s where problems start.
Last month, the disgruntled social media team at HMV live-tweeted the decision being made by those higher up to take down the official Twitter account ahead of widespread store closures. But while unhappy employees taking to Twitter to ridicule their employers can do minor, temporary damage to a company’s online brand, things could be a lot worse.
On Monday 18th February, the official Burger King Twitter account was hacked for over an hour, with the profile image and title changed to that of rival fast food giant MacDonald’s. Among the bizarre tweets that followed was a less than credible announcement that MacDonald’s had bought Burger King because “All of our employees crush and sniff percocets in the bathrooms.”
The hackers were eventually thrown off the account and normal business has been resumed.
Over at Business Insider, they’re convinced that notorious activist hacker group Anonymous are responsible, citing the fact that the hackers encouraged people to follow the official @YourAnonNews handle in tweets while they were in control of the Burger King account. Another popular theory is that the hacker was a rambunctious MacDonald’s super-fan. Candice Choi at The Japan Times simply commented that the hack was a symptom of wider cyber-security issues.
Once control of the account was regained, the Burger King team deleted all the content that had been posted. However, the experience wasn’t a complete disaster; over 20,000 people flocked to follow @BurgerKing during the scandal, which the team acknowledged in their first post-hack tweet:
“Interesting day here at BURGER KING®, but we’re back! Welcome to our new followers. Hope you all stick around!”