Saturday, 9 January 2010

A Writing 101 Production - Part 4 What To Do In Event Of Spambush or Tweettack



What are these strange new words? Well, duh.  Don't be so lazy.  Go and look them up in a dictionary (as I always say to Lovely Son and Delightful Daughter). Oh.  Wait.  You can't.  I made them up.  At least I think I did.  Who knows in this fast moving lexicographical world of ours? Anyway, I'm claiming them for future posterity.  Dictionary nerds at Chambers and OUP, please note--you read them here first*

I'm writing this post at the behest of  @magelly from Twitter (aka Jack Ruttan), who said this: 'Unless it's too embarrassing, you should write a blog post about what happened and how you got out of it. (it would help others!) '  So here goes. Always helpful, that's me. And not embarrassed by much.

One bright and sunny morning (rainy and grey really, but that's just too depressing),  I woke to a flurry of worried Tweeple contacting me via my Twitterphone (Tweeple=tweeting people--get with the language, ok**?).  Had I REALLY sent them messages about weight loss and the miracle of acai berries at 3am?  WEIGHT LOSS?  ACAI BERRIES?? ME???? Anybody who knows me realises that with my comfortable proportions and strawberry shortcake eating habits I am NEVER going to send messages about weight loss.  Not to mention that acai berries are vile tasting and gucky. Nor that my passion for beauty sleep ensures that at 3am I am tucked up and dreaming of...well, never mind what I dream of. So that would be a NO. NEIN. NON. 

My excellent detection methods (ie a message from the Twitter powers-that-be) led me to believe that I had been tweettacked by unknown hackers, and had therefore subjected all my Twitter followers to an unexpected spambush.  This was my worst nightmare, akin to sending a penile enlargement gadget email to all in my address book (complete with graphic pictures).  Well, maybe not that bad--it could have been a lot worse than acai berries.  But embarrassing, anyway.  So what to do? Well the nice  and brilliantly helpful Twitter techies had already informed me by email that I must change my password at once as they had taken my old one away and substituted it with a secret nerdy one--and they also sent me a helpful link to enable me to fix things.  So I did that.  I thought my password was already secure (aka Very Strong), but apparently not: 

Rule 1: never assume that someone evil (in the manner of a Cthulhu demon) can't hack and tweettack even the securest password on a social networking site. Make sure your password is full of a combination of weird word, random numbers and symbols.  Don't use the same password for everything you do on the www.  That way you only have to change one if there's a disaster.

Of course, I had to change the password on Tweetdeck too**.   

Having fixed the password problem and got back into my account, I began the long process of apologising: 

Rule 2: Yes. I know it wasn't my fault.  But it's important to contact everyone who has contacted you to enquire what the hell is going on as well as putting up a general apology tweet to those who haven't asked.  It's polite.  And it makes you feel like less of a disempowered worm.  Take back the initiative and Just Say Sorry.  People will like you again.  Maybe. If you grovel enough.

Can you stop it happening again?  Probably not.  There are weird people out there who think this sort of messing you about is fun.  They probably live in darkened basements lit by irradiated fungus and eat stale wombat droppings for breakfast.  Stereotyping is too good for these people, in my opinion.  Personally, I should like to bite all their hacking fingers off, but I'm far too nice and polite to actually do that, as you know.  So I'll just do what I can--change my password often, and hope that I've already had my bit of bad luck.  But I know that hacking dangers are all part of the risk of being on sites like Twitter.  My computer has the highest and most up to date virus protection/firewall/ID protection/web shield/anti-spyware I can find.  I back stuff up regularly on a different hard-drive.  (And that's a whole other post in the making, so I'm stopping right there in case your brains explode with Too Much Information). 

Stay safe out there.  It's a dangerous place, the www.  But I wouldn't be without it for anything.

* Definitions for the dictionary geeks:
Spambush (vb): to send (via email, tweet or other techno means) a spam marketing or other message to many friends, contacts or Twitter followers (via a nefarious third party hijacking hacker) without knowing you have done so.
Tweettack(ed) (n.,vb): To suffer an attack on your Twitter account by said nefarious third party hijacking hacker, who then uses your account to spambush your followers.
**Yes. YES. YESSS! I know. I promised you a post on all that arcane Twitter stuff. I'll get to it. Just bear with me for now. You can complain to the person with the clipboard and the schedule later.


Jack Ruttan said...

Thanks for the mention!
I wouldn't feel too bad about it. I just read a very creepy article by a hacker who got into Brit author and celeb Stephen Fry's twitter.

Katherine Langrish said...

You make it sound very funny, Lucy, but how annoying for you! I did see the twitterspam, but I knew it wasn't from you.
I'm sure "spambush" will catch on!

Lucy Coats said...

Ugh. Didn't see that, Jack. Will look. Scary.

Let's hope so, Kath. It reminds me of Hare in Alison Uttley's 'Hare and the Home Guard' in which Hare got confused and hoped for a ham-and-egg-bush....

abandonata said...

thanks for adding me to your blog list!

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