Twitter security issues explain my link to Peter Horrocks

Twitter message The message from my virtual 'friend' was sent the day after Twitter announced a security breach

In the real world, Peter Horrocks and I have never met, nor do I think he has any idea who I am.

In the artificially manufactured world of social media - where popularity is measured by your virtual friends, followers and connections - we are distantly acquainted.

Over the weekend I had a direct message, sent via Twitter, from the director of Global News. I was more than just a little curious. Why on earth would he be contacting me? I'm hardly the kind of person who would be on his radar.

The message simply said: 'Did you see this pic of you? LOL.' There was a link. I was immediately suspicious. Aside from the fact that Horrocks would never direct message me, there was the vocabulary. I couldn't imagine the serious-minded newsman - who has weighty things on his mind - using the expression 'laugh out loud'. It conjures up the image of someone under the age of 25.

Ironically, I get this message only a few days before safer internet day, on February 5, the aim of which is to raise the awareness of security online. An entire section on BBC Webwise has been given over to this subject.

No matter how internet-savvy you believe yourself to be, no matter how much you read the warnings, anyone can become the victim of a hacker. It has happened to me and also explains why Horrocks was suddenly acting friendly towards someone he doesn't know.

The director later confirms he didn't send me the message. 'It's Twitter spam, I'm afraid,' he emails.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent, recently blogged about Twitter's most serious security crisis to date - a lapse that happened to occur over the same weekend.

The company confirmed that a small number of its users - an estimated 250,000 out of 200 million - have had 'limited information' potentially fall into the hands of hackers.

Cellan-Jones was warned he was one of these. Could Horrocks also have been a victim?

I believe the answer is probably yes. As for the link I was sent, I did try to open it - cushioned by the safety of the BBC's firewall - and I was warned it could be malicious.

Laugh out loud? Not quite. But there is something rather amusing about the timing.


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