Getting Hacked All the Way to the Bank

Posted on February 13, 2013

Having your Twitter account hacked seems like it could only have negative consequences. Someone somewhere has access to information that you intended to keep private. Safeguards failed, mistakes were made and now someone is passing himself of as you: an unsettling thought. But for companies and brands, the old adage seems to ring true: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

After hackers targeted Burger King and Jeep earlier this week, both companies experienced small spikes in new followers. Shortly thereafter, MTV and BET latched onto the passing opportunity to play a prank on their followers by swapping Twitter handles (how zany!). Despite the lameness of the ploy, both accounts received modest bumps in their follower counts.

Earlier today, Donald Trump tweeted his account had been hacked, which would explain the Lil’ Wayne lyrics he posted. It’s probable that he was actually hacked but it wouldn’t be a shock if The Donald (or one of his underlings) recognized a chance to keep himself “relevant.”

Hackers are always going to be a threat online but in these instances, they proved to be more of a nuisance (if not nonexistent). Part of the interest in hacking stems from the collective fear of being hacked or having private information stolen online. There’s an undeniable humanizing factor when a company with billions of dollars has the same problem as your grandmother who’s still using AOL.

Moving forward, companies will surely find smarter and wittier methods than the “OMG WE GOT HACKED LOL” antics of MTV and BET to elicit that sort of response from their followers. But, social media platforms exist largely for the purpose of sparking dialogue and people are talking.

As for the companies that were actually hacked, they’re enjoying a greater level of public exposure. In the wake of “Hackergate,” Burger King earned their highest number of Google searches since the company announced it was going public last summer, while searches for Jeep were at their highest level since the aftermath of a government probe regarding gas tank fires. Seems like getting hacked is a small step in the right direction.