Despite Twitter being a very popular social networking platform, changing the way people distribute news and organise rally’s, even helping to overthrow governments in its own way, it does have one problem: monestisation. Advertising has never been rampant like on other news and social tools, Google and Facebook, but that’s beginning to change with promoted tweets.
However, it’s already being exploited, showing that Twitter needs to rethink the way it handles them. It came about when Sky wanted to help promote their show Glee by sponsoring the hashtag “#gleeonsky” to be promoted to British Twitter users. The problem came about when other Twitter users began tweeting their own “#gleeonsky”hashtagged posts, often with malicious links. These were picked up in the same fashion as the legitemate ones, leading to many users being sent to links containing adverts and viruses.
Graham Cluley at Sophos commented on the Twitter issue, stating that it’s hard to clamp down on users. Because there is no time frame for people being able to reach out to other Twitter users, anyone banned for tweeting anything that breaks Terms and Conditions (this includes malicious links), can simply make another acocunt.
He did however go on to warn Twitter users that the best method for protecting themselves from the spammers was to simply be a bit more internet savvy. “Even if a hashtag or a tweet is sponsored, Twitter users should be wary about clicking on unknown links, just as they would in their inbox.”
“In this instance, most of the spammed Tweets are claiming to link to sites containing illicit celebrity photos, but the spammers can choose to redirect users to any webpage they choose once they’ve clicked on a link. It could be a phishing site designed to steal Twitter credentials, it could be a fake pharmacy, it could be an explicit or offensive site, or it could be a website harbouring malware.”
This is similar to phising attempts being sent through email that have been around for years. Evidently Twitter’s uptake has been relatively innocent until recently. Perhaps over the next few months we’ll see some security measures put into place by the social network.