The Value of Back-Ups: Vine Super Star Loses All His Work to Hackers

Briton Ben Phillips’ 1.3 million Vine followers were disappointed sometime between Saturday and Sunday to find that all of his videos had been taken down. A Vine superstar who makes up to £12,000 per six-second video by featuring brands like Ford & Phillips was the victim of an account hack that he didn’t notice until Sunday.

Phillips’ stardom began when he created a Ford Mustang commercial featuring his then-girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. It’s an understatement to say that the cost of creating a Vine is minimal, so being paid £12,000 for that video was a huge profit. The duo went on to create other valuable videos featuring other products. Eventually, Harley’s mother and Ben broke up, but he kept making videos on the platform smartly designed for a generation with severely limited attention span and fierce competition for its time.

The Value of Back-Ups

Though you create the videos using the Vine app – that allows you stop on the millisecond and resume when ready – you can download them. It used to be as simple as downloading the short videos in the same way you’d save an image to your computer using your browser, but now it appears that doesn’t work in Google Chrome anymore.

A number of apps and services exist, however, which allow you to download the videos. And anyone with content as apparently valuable as that of Ben Phillips should have done just that – backed up his videos, in the event of something like the hack he’s experienced, the platform going away, or to move his content onto another service one day. (Which may or may not be against Vine’s terms of service.)

It is unclear at this time why Vine would not enable the content creators to back up their content at the click of a button. The files are small and the potential loss – as this case demonstrates – can be great.

Social Media Hacks Happen All The Time

Panic at the Vine studio
Panic at the Vine studio

“I don’t know how hacking works, but I found it really weird because they’d even gone and deleted my profile picture,” Phillips told the Guardian. Since the hackers left behind no message, and did nothing with the potential soapbox they’d found, it’s hard to say if Phillips particularly raised the ire of a hacker or hacking group or if he was simply one of the accounts that fit into the profile of vulnerabilities the hackers were probing.

In any case, social media hacks happen every day. Facebook and Google have rolled out device-specific password authentication. Facebook allows one to download everything they’ve got on the site at the click of a button, thereby making restoration after a hack takes place relatively easy. However, the user must care enough to take these steps.

To be fair to Phillips, he only entered the world of professional content creation over the last year. Before that, he was a clerk. One can hope for his sake that he learns from this experience the inherent value in keeping organized back-ups of everything you create, because one thing is for sure: you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Even if you do everything you are supposed to do and your account is secure, servers can fail, and content can be lost that way. But, hey – at least he didn’t get hacked by ISIS, right?

Featured image from Shutterstock.



P. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at