Is Your Account Tweeting Without You Knowing It? Twitter Upgrades to Two-Factor Authentication

by Morrison & Foerster LLP - Social Media

On April 15, 2013, the Associated Press’s Twitter account reported that President Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House. Within seconds of the announcement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 150 points. Fortunately, the President’s Press Secretary quickly confirmed that the President was unharmed and, soon after, the Associated Press announced that its Twitter account had been hacked. Although this was perhaps the most significant instance of a Twitter account being hacked, it was only one of many similar events—the Twitter accounts of the BBC, the CBS News programs “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” and even Burger King have all been the victims of recent hacker attacks.

In late May 2013, possibly in response to calls by various news organizations and blogs to institute a more stringent authentication system, Twitter announced the launch of an optional two-factor authentication feature.

In a two-factor authentication system, accessing an account requires a second level of authentication in addition to the single level of authentication that a login system typically requires. Login systems with a single level of authentication ordinarily require a user to simply enter a username and password to log in. Two-factor authentication further requires a user to provide an extra set of credentials to log in, which could consist of anything from the individual’s fingerprint or voice print, to a physical ATM card or a code provided by telephone. With Twitter’s two-factor authentication system, as a second layer of authentication, a user is required to enter a verification code that is sent to the user’s mobile phone. Therefore, in order to hack into a Twitter user’s account that has enabled two-factor authentication, a hacker would not only need to know the user’s username and password, but also would need access to the user’s mobile phone (or some other means of accessing the user’s mobile phone messages) in order to obtain the verification code.

For users who wish to enable this additional level of security, Twitter has provided a helpful walkthrough of the activation process. To activate two-factor authentication, a user can visit his or her account settings page, scroll down to the “Account Security” section, and select the box that reads, “Require a verification code when I sign in.” Twitter has provided the following image to help users easily locate this option:

After selecting this option, a user will be prompted to enter his or her phone number, after which Twitter will send the user’s mobile phone a text message that includes a one-time, six-digit verification code. Assuming the user receives that text, he or she would need to return to Twitter, click “yes” in the “Did you receive our message?” window, and enter the code from Twitter’s text message.

From that point forward, each time the user attempts to log in to the Twitter site, a new six-digit code will be sent to the user’s phone, to be entered in the following window:

Twitter’s decision to implement two-factor authentication is a welcome step towards greater account security in the digital world. And Twitter is hardly alone in shifting towards this system. Two-factor authentication is part of a broader trend toward heightened security that is currently being adopted by many similarly situated online service providers. Both Facebook and Google have provided their users with the option of turning on two-factor authentication since 2011, and there have been recent reports that Google may make two-factor authentication mandatory. Further, shortly after Twitter announced its implementation of two-factor authentication, LinkedIn announced that it also had introduced an optional two-step verification feature.

Twitter’s introduction of two-factor authentication following the hacking of the Associated Press’s Twitter account is just one example of how the social media world seeks to rapidly adapt to increasing threats to user security. Moreover, it clearly illustrates why companies with social media accounts should consider switching to two-factor authentication on platforms that offer it, to help mitigate the risks of potentially embarrassing or injurious online situations.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morrison & Foerster LLP - Social Media | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Morrison & Foerster LLP - Social Media

Morrison & Foerster LLP - Social Media on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.