Twitter Hacks: How to Avoid Being Punk’d in the Age of Social Media

There has been a flurry of twitter account hacks recently, what with our neighborhood villains over at the Syrian Electronic Army phishing every media outlet in the Western pond. NPR, BBC, Associated Press, and even The Onion (is nothing sacred?) have all fallen victim to their hacktivist wiles.

The good news: In response to the AP hack that sent the stock market for a loop nearly a month ago, Twitter has instigated a brand-new two-step authentication option that makes it much harder for hackers to worm their way into Twitter accounts. But how many of our nation’s celebrities had to suffer before this new and improved system was put into effect? Well, a bunch of them. Read on to find out what hackers had to say when they assumed the voices of America’s sweethearts and rock stars in 140 characters or less.

A Coven Of Spears 

As if The Princess of Pop hasn’t gone through enough makeovers and reinventions, someone went ahead and added goat skulls to Britney’s mix. In an admittedly funny attack, someone took it a level above the uninspired quips Twitter hackers are known for and gave Brit a bold new look. The sad thing is that about 500 Alex Jones fans are clapping their hands together saying, “Of course…it makes total sense!”

TIP: Keep vigilant tabs on anyone who has access to your account—especially if it’s as big as a pop star’s. Twitter is always revising their security protocols, so make sure they’re keeping up with them.

Haxl Rose

In a somewhat believable Twitter hack, this Axyl Rose impersonator can be seen giving a “November rain check” for the 2012 Guns ‘N Roses European tour. Oddly enough, commenters were more disappointed with the lack of originality over actually being duped, and potentially missing out on being welcomed to the jungle.

TIP: Know your Tweeter. One of the “tells” that this announcement was a phony was the announcement itself—the real Rose hadn’t tweeted in 100 days prior to this post. He’s also known to post from his iPhone, whereas this tweet was from the mobile site.

The Onion: Slap-Chopped! 

Ok, so maybe The Onion isn’t technically a celebrity, but I’m including them because not only do they have their satirical finger on the pulse of our nation, but they’re also way more charming than most real celebrities. So when the SEA hacked them with some nasty anti-Israeli and -Obama posts, they responded in pretty much the way you’d expect.

TIP: Thanks to The Onion’s under-utilized actual journalistic integrity, they were able to release an article that detailed exactly how the SEA hacked their account. And in classic Onion fashion, they also offered some less-than-practical tips for preventing your site from being hacked, like “transfer[ing] over to a weekly print production schedule.”

Keep On Kian On

Turns out you don’t need ALL CAPS AND FOUR LETTER WORDS to freak out troves of fans. This hacker played it cool with some faux-quiet dignity when he gained access to Irish pop star Kian Egan’s Twitter and declared his resignation from his band Westlife. Egan set the record straight shortly after on his wife’s account, but not before sending at least 200 hundred young girls into a fit of OMG-induced hysterics.

TIP: Remember, just because an account is “verified” doesn’t mean it’s always the real person doing the tweeting. Also: Twitter hacking is a thing, so just keep that in mind before you start tearing all those posters off your wall.

Monster Mash

When Lady Gaga declared that she was giving away free Macbooks “in the spirit of the holidays”, her monsters were likely unfazed. They probably read it as the eccentric entertainer’s newest vessel for bacon bits, or maybe they were expecting to receive the hollowed out machines stuffed with the thumb pieces of old gloves. Funny how the oldest line in the book can be interpreted when it comes from someone as kooky as Lady Gaga, isn’t it?

TIP: Let the alarms ring loudly whenever anyone offers you a free Mac product on the internet—even if they lovingly address you by your fan-nicknames. (I’m looking at you, Juggalos.)


This kind of reminded me of that Twilight Zone episode where one prankster was pranked by another prankster, only to find that the whole thing was on the set of an entirely different prank show. Ok, so that definitely wasn’t an episode, but there are some serious layers of “Punk’ing” going on here nonetheless. Check the hacker’s earnest warning to the rest of us, including the importance of SSL.

TIP: Twitter actually took this hacker’s advice, and now offers a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which double-protects your login information. Make sure you’ve enabled it on your browser and mobile by following these directions.

A Tiny Bit Confused

It’s not crazy to assume that the singer-songwriter responsible for “No Scrubs” might use Twitter to speak out about what she don’t want none of. I mean, maybe she just feels strongly about her husband (T.I.) being a better rapper than Nicki Minaj. Oh wait, she just voiced legitimate concern about Rihanna’s abusive relationship and then threatened to murder her all in the same sentence. Yup. That’s a hack.

TIP: If you don’t want to find yourself hurling unwarranted assault at your peers like Tameka, it’s always a good idea to make sure your password is bulletproof—an original phrase consisting of at least 8 characters that includes numbers and symbols. (E.g., W4ntN0$crub$.)

If you know of any other funny Twitter hacks we missed, share them below! And if you don’t, well, just wait a while. This war is far from over.

This guest post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe Home Security. Kevin covers issues related to security, tech, crime, and consumer issues. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually contributing to Reddit, playing music, or dominating NBA 2K13. SimpliSafe is a leader in the security industry.

(Padlock icon via Shutterstock.)