Beware Fake Retweets

Filed as Guides on July 17, 2009 4:44 pm

Personalities on Twitter are being hijacked to spread spam, scams and malware – look out!

Of course Grunny Grunberg never said this

Of course "Grunny" Grunberg never said this

The problem with retweets on Twitter is that it is simply a free-text copy and paste thing.

Even when you use a desktop tool such as TweetDeck, all it is doing is copying the original twitter users message and adding some stuff. Nothing is ever validated in the process, the tool will not check anything, and the twitter service itself does not perform any validation.

You would think there would be some back tracking done, as in the “in reply to”. Maybe this is something the Twitter folks can look into.

But until any changes are made in the way the service operates. people can use your name to spread whatever nefarious schemes they are hatching with wild abandon. This particular example I found out through TechCrunch, but I have seen lots of examples recently.

Obviously to see the exact message above I had to search twitter, even though I follow Greg Grunberg on Twitter (as a loyal Heroes fan), because he did not Tweet this and I am not following the scammer bot, I did not tweet it. That is not the problem. The problem is that retweets do spread, people are not always aware they are following spammers and bots (especially when those bots use sneaky tactics that I am not going to leak here), and you could unwittingly be clicking a link sent to you by someone you do trust.

So …

  1. Be careful about links you click
  2. Do not blind retweet, check out links before retweeting
  3. Report spammers and scammers to twitter

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