February 20, 2017 archive

The Danger of Giving Up Social Media Passwords – So Many Other Services Are Connected

What’s the harm in giving up my Twitter password?“, you might say, “all someone can do is see my direct messages and post a tweet from me, right?

Think again. The reality today is that social media services are used for far more than just posting updates or photos of cats. They also act as “identity providers” allowing us to easily login to other sites and services. 

We’ve all seen the “Login with Twitter” or “Continue with Facebook” buttons on various sites. Or for Google or LinkedIn. These offer a tremendous convenience. You can rapidly sign into sites without having to remember yet-another-password.


… if you give your passwords to your social media accounts to someone, they could potentially[1]:

  • Impersonate you on social media accounts and post updates in your name.
  • Sign in to the comment sections of various news media sites and leave comments using your name.
  • Connect in to photo sites and see our photos, and modify or delete the photos, or post new ones in your name.
  • Sign in to e-commerce sites, view your orders and purchase items.
  • Login to video sites and see what videos you have watched, or post new ones to your account.
  • Login to your Medium account, view and change any articles you have written, add new comments as you.
  • Sign in to Goodreads, view all your books, see all the lists of what you want to read, view all your reviews and post reviews in your name.
  • Login to your Spotify account and learn all about what kind of music you like to listen to.

And that’s only a small number of examples.

We live in an era of highly-connected systems. And there are so many systems and services! The convenience of using our social media accounts to login is easy to understand.

But… if you give someone your password to a social media account, or are required to give your social media passwords to someone, you are giving them access to so much more than just that social media service.

What can you do?

1. Don’t give out your social media passwords!

2. Understand where your social media IDs are being used. In both Twitter and Facebook you can go into your “Settings” and choose “Apps” to see where you have granted access. You can revoke access there for sites and services you no longer use.

3. Think about whether you want to continue using your social media IDs in so many places. Does the convenience outweigh the issue of having so many services linked to one identity?

4. Enable 2-Factor Authentication on sites that offer this, which requires a second step beyond just your password to login. These are very easy to use, often using a phone or a small and inexpensive “dongle” that fits on your keyring.[2] Do note that this may not help if you are required by authorities to provide your social media passwords as they may require you provide the device used for two-factor authentication.

5. Use a password manager instead of using your social media ID to login to other sites,  which enables you to generate and use very strong passwords and access them all with one master password. There are many excellent free and paid options available for both computers and mobile devices, with a variety of features.

6. Spread the word. Help others understand how critically important our social media passwords are.

P.S. For more ideas, please see

[1] Depending upon how you have configured the service to work.

[2] The FIDO Alliance is a leader in this area, and a list of enabled sites and certified products is available on their site https://fidoalliance.org/adoption/overview/

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FIR #75: The Quality of Your Intent

Note: This episode continues our experiment with a streamlined format: two guest co-hosts instead of three panelists and fewer stories. We were able to shave even more time off the show this week and will aim for further slimming next week. Please let us know how you like the format — and the length — by sending an email to fircomments@gmail.com

Doug Haslam and Augie Ray join Shel Holtz for this week’s episode, which covered these stories…

  • An Accenture report found that loyalty programs aren’t working, with millions of reward points lingering unused while consumers have different criteria for what makes them loyal.
  • Listener Tim Watt asked about our discussion in episode #73 about Volkswagen overcoming its emissions crisis to become the world’s top automaker. We discuss whether it would have mattered had the crisis been characterized as a public health issue rather than an environmental one.
  • PewDie Pie was dropped as a paid influencer for Disney and Google dropped him from its premium ad program after he shared anti-Semitic videos. It’s a challenge for brands hold influencers accountable for their content; it’s also impossible to distinguish real rogue Twitter accounts created by disgruntled government employees from fake ones. Meanwhile, several media outlets nearly fell for a fake press release claiming McDonald’s was trying to acquire Chipotle, and a movie company launched a fake news campaign to promote a new film. With so much fakery everywhere, will consumers start distrusting everything they see?
  • Dan York reports on social media passwords.
  • The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer calls for companies to put employees first, but new data from Gallup suggests most organizations aren’t heeding that advice.

Connect with guest co-hosts on Twitter at @dough and @augieray.

Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

FIR was recorded using Zencastr.

About today’s guest co-hosts:

Doug Haslam’s  career has spanned a variety of disciplines within the communications field: radio technology, editorial production, public relations, marketing, social media and digital. Currently a senior consultant with Stone Temple Consulting, Doug began with public radio, producing news and thoughtful sports programs, moving into technology public relations, and currently to social media and content strategy for brands of all sizes and industries. Doug’s love of media has come full circle, as his most recent positions have seen him taking full advantage of his content creation skills, managing social media and brand publishing programs for a wide variety of clients.

Augie Ray is a Research Director covering customer experience for marketing leaders at Gartner. He has had a diverse career, including leading a digital experiential agency, directing social business at USAA and managing a global customer experience team at American Express. In his present role, Augie researches and advises clients on topics such as Voice of Customer, customer journey mapping, customer experience strategy and virtual reality.

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