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Some Thoughts on Twitter Spam

Hi everyone.

Well it's a late evening and my mind is winding down towards bed, but I have just seen yet another warning that there is yet another spam scam going the rounds. According to the excellent service called Tweet Smarter, this one is an Email inviting you to update your Twitter profile using a pretty new header. Only when you click the link, what you see is absolutely what you don't get. You are taken to a Canadian website selling sexual enhancement drugs. Yuk!

This, as scams go, is one of the slightly more inocuous ones. Usually these kind of scams come more lethally loaded. Clicking on links in Emails or direct messages can mean that unauthorized people have access to your Twitter password, they can hack into your account, or in the worst case, malicious code can infiltrate your computer.

The thing I find most disturbing about this whole subject is that spam is sneaky. You hear about these scams and think to yourself: "oh, I'm much too savvy to ever get caught." but don't be so sure!

While you might not fall for "Did you really say this about me?" "Check out this funny picture!" or "See who has stopped following you." spammers have other, much more insidious ways of getting you to click their links. I should know.

One morning I logged into my Twitter account and saw a direct message from a good friend. It said: "Hi. I thought you might be interested in this article." and there was a shortened URL. Of course, with hindsight I should have checked it, but I've often been sent articles before, I knew this person, there was no leading comment beforehand, it looked perfectly inocuous. So I clicked the link.

What I found myself reading was a blog entry about making money at home, with a link to a website in it. Obviously my friend had been sent a link similar to mine and had done exactly the same. I changed my password on the double and as far as I know I didn't send out any fishing messages, but it brought home to me how very easy it is for anyone, however savvy they think they are, and believe me I had a good conceit of myself before that, to be caught out.

I learned two things from that little episode. firstly and most importantly to be extra and specially careful, to check and check again if I am unsure of something. It's sad that Twitter has become something of a minefield and that checking before you click has become so necessary, but that's the way things are. The second is how quickly a person is condemned for a mistake of this kind., a mistake anyone can make. I saw with dismay the nasty and judgmental tweets which were heaped on my poor friend's head when, if my feelings were anything to go by, she was feeling bad enough already. I find it very sad indeed that as well as friendship, fun and exchange of information in this community we also let in meanness, unnecessary drama and even hatred at times.

In conclusion, I am really thankful for all the excellent information services out there like the aforementioned Tweet Smarter and others similar who keep us up to date with the latest scams. Spammers, like the poor, are always going to be with us, but thanks to their warnings I will go on fighting the good fight, reporting spam wherever I see it, checking before I click links and hoping to keep myself and thus my Twitter followers safe.