Twitter Looking To Hire Spam Engineer

The other day, I noticed Ev Williams who is the co-founder of Twitter, send out a Tweet mentioning that the company was looking to hire a spam engineer. Imagine how much it would suck if the job title was rearranged to engineer spam. Of course, there are already plenty of people/bots that have fulfilled that role. At any rate, I hope the position is filled quickly so I can stop receiving followers such as this one.

Twitter Spam Lady

Despite the half way decent looking avatar, this lady has earned a spot on the blocked list.

Registry Scans On Skype

I woke up today and discovered that Mr. Registry Scan had contacted me over Skype. Apparently, Windows requires immediate attention and security center has detected malware on my computer. A funny joke considering that I bet it wouldn’t be discovered unless I clicked on the link provided within the message.

If Mr. Registry scan ends up contacting you through Skype, immediately block him and DO NOT click on the link provided within the message.

I hope I don’t have to look forward to being bombarded with messages from Skype accounts with spam. That would become seriously annoying. This is one of the reasons why I never use the SkypeMe! availability option.

Is This How Comment Spam Works

As I was checking out my Akismet spam filter one day, I noticed a comment that was labeled differently than most of the other ones I’ve seen. This comment linked to a site called BotMaster. According to the site, BotMaster sells a service called Xrumer that comes bundled with Hrefer which is an automated link-building tool. BotMaster claims that the tool has nothing to do with spam and that its primary purpose is to build links and search engine power to your site.

These are funny claims considering a comment which was created by the BotMaster software appeared in Akismet as spam. This is the first time I’ve come across an actual site selling services/software for link building purposes. The software will set you back $450.00 but that seems like a high price to pay to have whatever site you are promoting to show up in Akismet as spam.

I am not trying to actively support or advertise this service but rather, highlight the fact that these things do exist. This makes me wonder how much spam is generated on forums and blogs with software such as this. Anyone else come across botmaster within their own Akismet interface?

Twitter Implements New Limitations

StopTwitterSpam

According to the StopTwitterSpam website, the folks at Twitter have updated their Help Page to reflect new changes that have gone into effect in regards to Following and Updating limits. It looks like these limitations have probably gone into effect to not only lessen the strain on the overall infrastructure of Twitter, but to also deal with spam. As far as the limitations go,

What are the limits, specifically?

The limits are based on multiple parameters–not a single metric. Because the limits are in part meant to curtail nefarious behavior, we are not revealing the specifics of how they are reached. Please note that these limits are sure to change as we figure out what works. We’ve taken a best guess to get started, but Twitter is still evolving and new uses are being invented all the time.

Good idea on their part as this will make it harder for Twitter spammers to reverse engineer the limitations. Hopefully, this does not adversely affect the majority of legitimate Twitter users and helps to make Twitter a more reliable service.

Twitter Gets The Bird Flu

Twitter Spam

It looks like the time has arrived for Twitter to step up to the plate and do something about this spam problem. Over this past weekend, I received over 20 different email notifications that so and so was following me on twitter. Only 3 of those people were legit. The rest of them were spammers who were following thousands of people and the only updates they had made to their account were spammy links.

Adam Ostrow of Mashable correctly identified some time ago that Twitter was going to undergo a spam explosion and his prediction appears to have come true. In fact, he recently wrote another article highlighting his inability to sleep because of the constant buzzing noise his BlackBerry was making due to spammers following his account.

Then, I come across an interesting experiment through Twitter. There is a user on Twitter who goes by the name of RU4Real. The name has a purpose. The account was created by someone named Nantel as an experiment to see how many people would automatically follow a spam bot without first checking the content that said user has posted. As it stands, the account is following 5,484 users with 98 of those following this account. It’s already been discussed that the majority of the followers most likely have their Twitter account configured to automatically follow anyone that follows them.

Here is how the project has progressed thus far:

I created a new Twitter account that specifically tells people what it’s for and not to follow it. I then followed >5200 Twitter feeds to see who would reciprocate without reading. At last count, it had 94 followers. Interestingly, an additional 41 people initially followed me back, but then read the account description and changed their mind (good!). I also had to block 3 others that admitted following RU4Real even though they knew that it was an experiment.

I’ve also received some requests for my real Twitter account. Just don’t expect me to blindly follow you back

There is also need for you to block the account, it will be deleted once the experiment is over.

Phase 2 will begin once it gets 100 followers. During this period, I won’t add anybody else until the weekend to see if I can attract those spam followers that have been annoying everyone.

This is at best a very interesting experiment. Now, the recent poll put up by Mashable asks the question, Is it time for Twitter to move aggressively to prevent spammy accounts? The results so far speak for themselves. 359 people have voted yes compared to 30 people who have voted no. Of course, if you don’t use Twitter then you obviously could care less. But for those who actually use the service such as myself, I think it’s time for Twitter to take Adam’s suggestion of at least implementing a CAPTCHA solution that is presented to user’s after you press the follow button. This is the bare minimum that should be done to combat this problem of spam.

How about you? Have you received a major influx of spammy twitter accounts choosing to follow you? What other suggestions can you think of that would help Twitter deal with spam more effectively?

As a side note, if you take a look at the following image quite a few people who are following RU4Real are big names on the web.

Another Mile Stone Reached

As it turns out,

Akismet has caught 10,023 spam for you since you first installed it.

It wasn’t too long ago when Akismet blocked the first 1,000 spam messages. In just a short time after that, it’s now 10,000. Next Stop, 100,000. And if the past is anything to go by, 100,000 will be reached in no time at all! Thanks Akismet for saving me a ton of time and hassle.

FireFox Saved Me!

PhishingBlocker

Early in 2007, I finally managed to file for my first credit report since they passed the law allowing for one free credit report per year. Out of the number of institutions available for filing my credit report, I chose to go with Equifax. I was pretty impressed with how fast it took for them to process my information. Once they were finished, I was able to see my credit report online. And, in case you were wondering, my credit score is around seven or eight hundred which I hear is pretty good.

This year, I have yet to file for my credit report but I received a piece of email the other day from Equifax telling me that I was required to fill out a particular form they had sent me.

equifaxemail

Well, I wasn’t in a hurry to open up any emails from them but when I finally did, here is what I saw.

Equifax Scamjob

Looks convincing doesn’t it? Well, after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to click the link to see what it was all about. The result? The first image you see in this post. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this notification which took me by surprise. After receiving the update, I did a Google search on the scam and yep, this was an Equifax phishing email.

So not only did I want to warn others, but I wanted to give a big thank you to the built in Phishing filter in FireFox. You saved me bro!