BBC Tech journalist falls into common Twitter trap

Rory Cellan-Jones is a busy chap. He’s the BBC expert on all things technological and pops up with alarming frequency on television, radio and online talking about the hot tech story of the day.

He also has a faithful following of over 10,000 fans on Twitter where he tweets throughout the day about what he’s up to. In fact, from time to time, his seeming addiction to telling the micro-blogging site about his early morning runs with the family dog has made the headlines itself.

But now, a rather irritating “feature” of Twitter has bitten poor Rory in the bottom. For Rory – who goes by the nickname Ruskin147 on the site – has fallen foul of a trap which recently also caught out another (somewhat higher paid I suspect) BBC employee, Jonathan Ross.

Rory Cellan-Jones reveals his email address on Twitter by accident

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Rory accidentally posted his personal email address to the site, presumably intending that it just to be sent via a private direct message to a single individual. However, his slip-up meant that his thousands of followers (and unscrupulous PR people hoping to get his attention) could use it.

Some of Rory’s followers were quick to point out his mistake, and he deleted the message from his timeline.

Reaction to Rory Cellan-Jones accidentally revealing his email address

Unfortunately, however, there’s a problem with the way Twitter works. Twitter users expect their tweets to be deleted when they press the delete button, but they can still be recovered by strangers using the “Advanced Search” facility.

I feel sorry for Rory. It’s far too easy to post publicly on Twitter that you meant to remain private. And the site does not provide a good way of retracting Tweets made in error.

Here’s a video I made a couple of months ago, describing this problem and how TV celebrity Jonathan Ross found himself in a pickle because of it:

[vimeo 4723288] Jonathan Ross’s email slip underlines Twitter security problem from SophosLabs on Vimeo.

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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