Twitter Hopes the Public Will Take Responsibility for Security Issues

Much of life is figuring out what, exactly, we as people are responsible for: ourselves, our communities, our social media accounts… At least this is how Twitter wants the public and private companies to handle their Twitter profiles.

With the recent hacking of the AP’s Twitter account and subsequent drop in the Stock Exchange, the world took notice of the power harnessed by a single tweet. Immediately, everyone began pointing fingers, setting into motion a public relations crisis for Twitter.

Customers clamored for better security features on Twitter, specifically a two-step authentication system that would block “spear-phishing” attacks and prevent hackers from gaining access to customer accounts. Twitter knows this will take time to develop and implement, and may also impede speedy access to accounts, which is critical to a social media platform dependent on immediacy. So Twitter isn’t keen on this additional security idea. It has a different plan.

Twitter is asking its customers to take more responsibility for their own security. That’s right. Twitter is pointing its finger back at the public and saying, “Hey, people, this is your responsibility.” And we have to admit, Twitter does have a point. Sort of.

As much as we hate it, complicated passwords and restricted access are responses to the realities of the world we inhabit, much like taking off our shoes is now part of air travel. Cutting corners only leads to trouble. We have to be responsible for ourselves.

But from a public relations standpoint, Twitter is entering dangerous territory here. The public doesn’t appreciate being told it is part of the problem. This is treacherous for Twitter’s brand identity as many customers will view this response as Twitter’s attempt to shirk its own responsibilities and pass them on to customers.

The PR challenge for Twitter relies on striking a balance between sincerely accepting blame while also changing customers’ behavior—without offending them. Is this even possible?

So, we ask you, industry experts, will Twitter ultimately survive this PR crisis by adding more security, or will it convince the public to own the problem?