MTV and BET’s fake Twitter hack PR stunt wasn’t funny and raises serious questions

MTV and BET just fooled us all, and I’m not sure if it was funny, stupid or scary.

Yesterday, Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked and the same hackers did it to Jeep today.

Then, just an hour ago, it appeared the @MTV and @BET accounts — both are owned by Viacom — were also victim to the same intrusion.

But as both accounts began retweeting followers who were freaking out about the hacks, there was something a little fishy.

Just minutes before the initial “hacked” Tweets, BET social media manager J.P. Lespinasse Tweeted — then deleted the Tweet— that he was “’bout to have some fun on social w/ @mtv + @bet s/o to @kionsanders cc: @adamostrow”

Then after an hour and eight more “hacked” Tweets, MTV admitted its joke while improperly using the term “Catfishing“:

As did BET:

Maybe the folks at BET and MTV enjoyed a couple chuckles and a few more followers because of this stunt, but in reality, this is a serious problem for Twitter and for the journalists who rely on the social network more and more everyday as a news source.

Some, including Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa, want Twitter to implement a 2-step verification process, similar to what Google has.

Whatever the solution, it needs to come soon. Hacking social media accounts and pretending to be something you’re not is a serious problem — just look at what Notre Dame football star Manti T’eo, companies like Burger King and the 250,000 other infiltrated Twitter accounts have had to deal with.

And couldn’t MTV learn from its past? They tried a similar fake hack stunt in 1998 and it backfired.

  • Thomas R.

    And yet you are writing about it. Even if the stunt was in bad taste, you are still writing about it and the original intent. Mission accomplished. Free Press > Paid Marketing.

  • Guest

    “…journalists who rely on the social network more and more everyday as a news source.”

    Well there’s your problem.

    • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

      Exactly

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=37521058 facebook-37521058

      Couldn’t have said it better… Instead of 2-factor authentication, shouldn’t they look at actually calling a source?

  • Guest

    Congrats to MTV and BET for these successful viral creatives! This is proof positive that some bloggers will give free publicity to any boneheaded idea.

  • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    Time to put the ‘investigative’ back in ‘journalism’. GeekWire has run some lengthy articles lately which clearly went beyond twitter journalism (to coin a phrase). Kudos. Keep it up and show the rest of the tech blogs how it’s done.