March 20, 2017
McDonalds’ Twitter Account Hacked
These days, it seems like, sooner or later, everyone gets hacked. Big box stores, department stores, discount retailers and credit card companies. It seems no one is safe. But McDonald’s? Did anyone really expect black hat programmers to sneak into the cyber home of the Golden Arches? Well, they have … at least on Twitter.
Cyber eyebrows were raised in earnest last week when a tweet slamming Donald Trump popped up on the verified McDonald’s Twitter account. The missive said: “”@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”
Sure, this is a common refrain on social media, even from large organizations that don’t much like the President … but McDonald’s? As angry Trump supporters raged and Trump haters praised the post, McDonald’s marketing team tried to figure out what in the world happened.
Twenty minutes after the post originally landed on the feed, it was deleted. But 20 minutes is a virtual eternity on social media. Sometimes, literally an eternity, as people grab screenshots and post and repost and repost, ad nauseam. So, there was no getting around it. McDonald’s had some explaining to do. And, so they did.
About an hour after the tweet went up, McDonald’s admitted their account had been “compromised,” and that they were working on figuring out how: “Twitter notified us that our account was compromised. We deleted the tweet, secured our account and are now investigating this…”
Later, in a conversation with CNN, McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey said, “Based on our investigation, we have determined that our Twitter account was hacked by an external source. We took swift action to secure it, and we apologize this tweet was sent through our corporate McDonald’s account…”
So, was McDonald’s really “hacked,” or did a former employee with an ax to grind gain access to the account and decide to get snarky? Fair question. If it really was a “hack,” it would not be the first time a fast food giant was compromised. A few years back, someone got into Burger King’s account and changed their profile picture to the McDonald’s logo, offering a message that Burger King has been sold to its rival. And that was the nicest thing that was said. Subsequent messages included rude and obscene content.
At this point no one knows, or at least they’re not saying, whether the “hack” was a prank, or if malicious intent was present. But it’s a warning that, maybe, these companies might want to consider changing their passwords … at least.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."View more posts from this author