The perils of status-jacking

23:13, Sep 16 2010

"The holocaust never happened."

These words burning a hole in my Facebook news feed led me to believe my friend had either gone completely nuts or they had been status-jacked.

Thankfully, it turned out to be the latter, but not before a few moments of uncertainty.

Status (hi)jacking occurs when you (foolishly) leave your account logged in on a social medium like Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube. Soon enough, a playful trickster comes along and decides to have some fun.

The next thing you know your are getting stern "please explain" messages, or worse, "Oh wow... I can't believe you would share that" messages.

If you are lucky, you'll find it quickly, remove it and curse the day you ever added that trickster as a "friend" - but it doesn't always happen that way. Rogue status updates can go completely un-noticed on high-traffic profiles for some time, or even be missed completely.

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If the trickster is particularly malicious, their jacked update will be incredibly defamatory and yet still partly believable. If they do it right, everyone from your partner to your Aunty Mavis will be wondering if you really did let rip in an elevator while having sex with the boss's underage son.

The dark side of it is the pure, spiteful form of this phenomenon - the hacked account status jack. This is where someone you know (often a partner - or ex-partner) completely takes over your account, changes the password and begins to act as you and basically screw with your social life in a very, very bad way.

It hasn't happened to me, but I'm sure it's happened before, so lock up your accounts.

You only have to see a few of these happen before you start to get a little nervous whenever you step away from your computer.

What's the cure? Not being lazy, I guess. Log out when you finish, or even if you are taking a short break. Don't set your passwords to automatically remember unless you are absolutely sure they will be secure.

The trickster is watching, and waiting.

Have you ever been status-jacked? Was it funny or embarrassing? Maybe you do a bit of status jacking yourself? Do you log out of social networks each time?

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