Guest Post: 7 Reasons Your Friends’ Social Profiles Have Been Hacked (And How To Spot If They Have)
How well do you know the people you’re connected to on social media? Would you know if they’d been hacked? Would you know why they were hacked?
Every day the people we follow create hundreds of updates. We get status posts. Photo uploads. Direct messages. We get links to off-site content.
But sometimes the stuff your friends post looks weird. Why? Most of your friends probably have a weak understanding of internet security, and might be using the same guessable password across all their social and email accounts.
Basically, they’re very hackable, and they need some free virus protection. So how do you know if your friend has been hacked or if you just need to unfollow them?
Here are some tips to work out how and why your friends may have been hacked…or whether you might actually just need to unfriend them…
1. The strange Twitter DM. A friend sends you a peculiar direct message. It says someone has said something bad about you on a blog. Or it doesn’t say anything, there’s just a strange-looking link with no explanation.
This is spam. Your friend has been hacked. Do not click on the link. It’s probably a phishing scam. The hacker wants your account data, and the link could lead to the internet’s version of Mordor.
Stay in the Shire. Get in touch with your friend and let them know what’s happening. And tell them to change their password!
2. The unexpected Google+ invitation. Out of the blue a friend invites you to join them on Google+. Is this spam? Have they been hacked? Of course. No one uses Google+!
Actually, that’s unfair. And far from the truth. Google’s social baby has just overtaken Twitter to become the world’s second-biggest networking site. Your friend’s message is almost certainly legit.
So respond to your friend and join them on G+. Unless you don’t like them, in which case pretend you never got the message and have never heard of Google+.
3. The relentless Facebook updates. One of your friends begins posting relentlessly about games they’re playing. You get constant newsfeed updates about the in-game levels they’ve completed, items they’ve found and secrets they’ve unlocked.
You also keep getting notifications about the apps they’re using, and never-ending invitations to install garish-looking third-party widgets.
Your friend’s Facebook profile has not been hacked. They simply have a poor grasp of the site’s posting and privacy settings. You need to either unfriend this person or hide all updates from them apart from the absolute essentials. It depends on how you feel about poor social media etiquette.
Alternatively, you might want to let them know about the volume of stuff they’re posting. They might actually be cool, but not realise they’re essentially spamming their friends with digital gibberish.
4. The bizarre Vine messages. Similar to the Twitter direct messages, your friends start posting odd sayings, messages and links in comments on your videos. Your friends don’t usually do this. Is it legit? What’s going on?
It’s likely that your friends’ have been hacked. Vine is a new social platform, and people may not have got a grasp on the security settings for their accounts yet.
Most likely the hacker is just spamming for the lulz. Or more sinister forces could be at work. In either case, don’t click on the links, and let your friends know what someone is posting in their name.
5. The Tumblr that tumbles in quality. You notice that your friend’s old fashion and pop culture blog has become active again. Hooray! But wait – they’ve started blogging about kitchen cabinets and laptops and foreign holidays. The posts are nonsensical. What’s going on?
It’s spam for sure. What’s happened is a hacker has gained access to your friend’s blog and started posting ‘spun’ articles. Spun content is like digital sewage clogging up the web. Don’t become part of the blockage!
Holler at your friend and let them know what’s happening with their blog. They’ll be eternally grateful.
6. The Instagram account that flips. Your friend used to post awesomely arty photos on Instagram. They uploaded interesting images of bars, restaurants, mountains, sunsets, food and clothes. Now they only post images of their kids.
What’s happened? Your friend has grown up and had kids. It happens. Unfortunately, they’ve also decided that all people want to see them post now is pictures of their children.
This syndrome is not confined to Instagram, either. Once contracted, it may spread to all your friend’s social profiles. It’s usually incurable, but there’s hope in the form of browser plug-ins that swap newsfeed photos of babies for cool images.
7. The email that promises unbelievable riches. Ok, email isn’t officially a social media profile, but if it’s part of your Google profile the lines begin to blur.
So you check out your email inbox. There’s a message from a friend. The subject line tells you they’ve made lots of money from the internet.
Unless you know your friend has recently reaped the rewards of some digital startup enterprise, this is probably spam or a scam – the hackers want to gain access to sensitive data on your computer through malware.
So don’t click on any links in the email. In fact, don’t open the email at all. Drop your friend a line and let them know. Again: password, password, password.