The Value of Social Media


What’s more valuable: your stolen Twitter account or your stolen credit card?

The answer may seem obvious, and in fact when I read that headline from a Wall Street Journal article this past week I excepted to read that your Twitter account might be giving access to account hacker. But, I was way off base, and pretty surprised by the answer.

New research suggests that hacked Twitter accounts are more valuable than stolen credit card numbers in the cybercrime black market. As outrageous as this may seem, it actually makes sense from an economic stand point: it is simple supply and demand.

“A Twitter account costs more to purchase than a stolen credit card because the former’s account credentials potentially have a greater yield. Immediately after a large breach, freshly acquired credit cards command a higher price—as there is greater possibility for the credit cards to still be active. But after time, prices fall because the market becomes flooded.”

This is not to say individual Twitter accounts are more valuable, but rather, it suggests that big name company Twitter accounts are worth more than just their promotional tweets. This idea is very reminiscent of the Target data hacking scandal that happened last December where millions of credit card numbers were exposed to credit card theft after Target accounts were hacked. The same principles apply to hacking Twitter accounts and selling them on the black market. Which begs the question: how accessible are we via our social media sites?

This, of course, is now the age-old question. These new statistics are alarming though, and should set off some red flags in “generationals” heads. Us younger generation has been told time and time again to watch what we say on the Internet because “the Internet is forever.” But most of us have ignored these warnings and adhere to the “post now, and think about the consequences later” mindset. We’ve always thought that the consequences we were warned about were limited to potential employers seeing photos and posts about underage drinking or profanity. However, this recent study serves as a reminder that our online actions have the potential to have our identity stolen, which holds graver consequences than some adults seeing you at a party when you were in high school.

These social media sites are not merely a medium for posting about how hard your workout was or posting pictures of your meals, our beloved social media sites are checking in on us as much as we are checking in on them. While we have nearly no control over who is hacking what and selling it on the black market, we certainly have a say in how much information we put out there. Opting-out of certain social media features, like Facebook’s Deep Face for instance, could save you a lot of stress. In the end, we will never know exactly who might get their hands on the information stored in our favorite social media websites.


Photo Credit: Reuters

Zak, E. (28, March 2014). What’s more valuable: A stolen twitter account or a stolen credit card?. Retrieved from

(March 2014) Markets for cybercrime tools and stolen dataread online markets for cybercrime tools and stolen data. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Yadron, D. (27, March 2014). Data breach suit against target also names security firm trustwave. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “The Value of Social Media

  1. I think because Twitter is popular among young, which is also the generation that cares about the “here & now,” problems such as these become huge issues. It’s scary because with the increase of advances to help us digitally socialize, the more issues suck as hacking become more severe.


  2. Now that I know how useful my twitter account is, maybe I’ll start protecting it like my credit card! Who knew twitter had such an influence.


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