My blogsite was hacked, once. Fortunately, I was signing in often to look at tracking data, so I discovered the problem immediately (my password had stopped working) and recovered the account on the same day. I don’t believe any harm was done.
Always use an obscure password which you don’t use on other accounts. Ideally, every online password should be like a single fingerprint. The advice on how often to change a password varies.
The mistake I made was using a foreign word (with a correct diacritical mark, which seemed so clever at the time), followed by a predictable series of other characters. I was like the small child who thought cheap adhesive tape would hold a broken plate together.
That said, we must engage our thinking skills when a social media user — especially someone we already dislike — appears to start posting hateful stuff overnight. Be fair. Even people you don’t like get hacked.
Okay, apparently Roseanne’s tantrum on Twitter earlier this year was real. She didn’t try to deny it. She just blamed a prescription drug and opened a new can of worms in the process.
Social media accounts do get tampered with, though.
I have suspicions about recent Twitter posts attributed to a semi-public figure whom I don’t like, and haven’t met in person. He has said things in the past about his account being hacked, although evidently he’s responsible for some unsettling stuff on his feed because he has defended it.
Whether our social media contacts are celebrities we don’t know or average people with made-up usernames, always try to be fair when you see a surprise MAGA post or something else which looks out of character.
The person whose far-out posts I saw this morning is not well. He may have let the rage flow on his own impulse, due to bereavement and other pressures. Then again, maybe not.
When you see something as disturbing as what I saw this morning, try to refrain from reaching quick conclusions. That user may have been hacked. He might also be on the brink of giving up on something which was important to him for a long time.
Don’t reply directly to those posts with advice. Act on empathy, and consider how you might react if you were drunk, stoned or generally at the end of your rope, and someone replied by saying you should seek counseling. An unwise reply can escalate emotions, even if it’s technically right. If you’re acquainted with the person and want to help, you may have to consult a professional for advice on how to intervene.
Then there are posts that unambiguously demand an immediate 911 call. I remember calling an agency on two different occasions, but I don’t know what came of it either time. Hope everything’s alright.
A few years ago, I made a legal inquiry on the topic of self-harm threats. I was told that in most cases in California, I had no obligation if the person in question wasn’t someone I was legally responsible for, and I didn’t belong to any of the professions that had reporting obligations. That offered some flexibility when I suspected things would turn out better if I minded my own business. The laws might be different in each state, but I don’t know.
Opportunists, schemers and generally unhinged people are on social media. We don’t always know how to deal with them. Today, I’ll just count my blessings and be grateful I have never personally met the man whose Twitter posts are causing all hell to break loose among his followers.