Twitter’s Erica Anderson Shares Best Twitter Practices For Newsrooms

BOSTON — Following a number of recent high profile hackings of newsroom Twitter accounts, Twitter’s Erica Anderson on Friday shared tips to prevent future hackings from happening—and what to do if your account is hacked.

Speaking at the 2011 Online News Association Conference, Anderson (@EricaAmerica), Twitter’s manager of journalism content said there are three simple steps to take to prevent a hacking:

  1. Associate your Twitter accounts with a work e-mail address, and not a personal one. Personal ones can be broken into due to missing password questions, and Twitter accounts can be compromised that way. Corporate e-mail accounts are more secure, she said.
  2. Use strong passwords that are at least 10 characters and contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Anderson noted that all passwords that Twitter employees use are computer-generated.
  3. Always enable HTTPS, which will soon be enabled by default.

If your account is hacked, Anderson said to immediately file a ticket with Twitter. She also said to have an emergency plan in place, to ensure word gets out that tweets from your account are from hackers and should be disregarded.

Beyond security, Anderson also shared some simple ways newsrooms should use Twitter to increase engagement.

She pointed to The Washington Post‘s Twitter account bio, which includes both who does the tweeting on the account as well as a value proposition.

“I love it when a news organization tells you who’s tweeting, or gives a value proposition right away,” she said.

Another feature she discussed: Warm signup. If a news organization puts #WelcomeToTwitter in one of its lists, and a user signs up for Twitter off of that news organization’s Twitter page, upon signing up, that user will asked if they want to follow members of that list.

Anderson spoke about the value of Twitter’s fast follow feature, which allows anyone with a mobile phone—Twitter user or not—to receive updates if they text “follow <twitter handle>” to 40404. Users who do not have Twitter accounts receive the updates as text messages.

A fix for rate-limiting is on its way, Anderson said. The issue recently got attention after Jeff Jarvis live-tweeted a second-by-second account of what his day was like on Sept. 11, 2001, but had to stop after Twitter told him he tweeted too frequently in an hour.

Anderson said that was an early feature of Twitter designed to prevent spam, and acknowledged it was wrong for respected figures like Jarvis—or any journalist who is live-tweeting—to be rate-limited.

“This information is being sent to the top of the company…and we’re going to fix it,” she said.