A little over a week ago, The Onion’s social accounts were hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army. Although some tech blogs questioned whether it was a legitimate hack or a “tasteless ploy for attention,” the site set the record straight by coming forward and admitting that their accounts had been hijacked. Once they regained control of their accounts, though, they created a flood of fantastic, funny content that acknowledged the attack, poked fun at itself, and still helped other brands. Here’s what they did.
A straightforward post detailing the attack.
Usually, brands are only eager to admit that they were hacked because the hacker used the opportunity to post inappropriate and offensive materials. They want it to be clear that they were not responsible for questionable posts, but they don’t want to admit they made a mistake that made them vulnerable to a cyberattack. The Onion came forward to do both. Yes, they made it clear that the SEA was responsible for the questionable posts, but they also dedicated an entire blog post to the series of missteps that led to the hack. In addition to the details that led to the attack, the blog also gives tips to help readers protect themselves. Not only does it serve as a cautionary tale for other brands, it shows them how they can avoid making the same mistakes.
A tongue-in-cheek advice column on the Onion’s official site.
Of course, the Onion wouldn’t be the Onion if they didn’t find some humor in the situation. In addition to their sincere blog post detailing the hack, they also wrote a tongue-in-cheek post, giving ridiculous advice to help readers prevent their accounts from being hacked. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the site’s content, but also showcases the brand poking fun at itself for letting such a thing happen.
A string of tweets poking fun at themselves and at their attackers.
Piggy-backing on the cheeky advice column, the social media team also sent out a string of hilarious tweets that capitalized on that content and the hack itself and it really resonated with followers. The “Onion Twitter Password Changed To OnionMan77 | ‘That Ought To Do It,’ Company Sources Confirm” tweet in particular spurred hundreds of retweets and favorites and lots of engagement.
Nervous about the security of your brand’s social accounts? Check out our guide to keeping your accounts safe (and what you should do if they are compromised).