Tag Archive | "spam"

Apple Files Patent For Automated Disposable Email Addresses To Help Handle Spam

Tags: , , , , , , ,


trackback-spam

A new Apple patent application published today (via AppleInsider) details a system for heading off email spam and tracking its source. The tech automates a process many people now use manually, setting up temporary email addresses to be used for web service signups, which can then be thrown away when compromised by a spammy service, and provide clues as to which provider betrayed your trust.

The system would automatically generate disposable email addresses based on the service you want to use it with, and possibly contain an identifier in its construction to let you know where spam is coming from. So, for instance, if you signed up for Service X, the email might be “First.last.service@provider.com.” Managing said email addresses and dealing with cutting off the ones that are subject to spam can be done through web and app graphic user interfaces, as described in the patent, too.

Spam is a problem that only increases the more we use email and the web, and addresses not diligently maintained can quickly become overwhelmed with inbound communications from services not necessarily being responsible with your shared information. Apple may seem like an odd candidate as someone trying to tackle this problem, but the company has iCloud and acts as an email provider as part of that product’s suite of cloud services. It’s in the company’s best interest to minimize spam and help pare down on email address churn – if users can manage to keep one permanent address safe from spammers, they won’t have to change their main contact info frequently, which has benefits in terms of protecting the integrity of iTunes and Apple ID accounts.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Snapchat Apologizes For Snap Spam, Claims It’s Unrelated To Data Breach

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Snapchat-sorry-header-664x374

Snapchat delayed apologizing for a big user data breach last month but was quick to say sorry today to users who received “Snap Spam” over the weekend — unwanted photos and videos.

“We’ve heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service. We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue,” Snapchat wrote in a blog post today. However, it said the issue appeared to be unrelated to the user data breach.

That last part addresses worries that, because 4.6 million usernames and associated partial-phone numbers leaked, spammers could be attempting to send spam Snaps to every username they can find. Many people only allow Snaps from friends, but others accept them from anyone with their user name, opting for privacy by obscurity.

CEO Evan Spiegel personally denied the connection in a tweet:

@2William nope. Did you change your settings so that only your friends can send you snaps?—
Evan Spiegel (@evanspiegel) January 12, 2014

To keep people safe, Snapchat recommends going into the app’s “Who can send me snaps” setting and only allow Snaps from friends you approve.

Snap settingsSnap spam could derail the growth of Snapchat if it goes unchecked. There’s something really exciting about receiving a legitimate Snap, and knowing you have to pay attention when watching because you only get to see it once (or twice thanks to the new Replay feature). But Snap spam erodes this anticipation, and could make users weary of notifications that they’ve received a new ephemeral message.

Snapchat has been aware of the threat for months, as it published a blog post in April called “Snap Spam (Ew.)”. At the time, it said it was working on long-term solutions, but also recommended not accepting Snaps from strangers.

One problem with fighting the spam surge is that there’s no way to currently report spam. You can only block it. That makes it harder for Snapchat to tell whether someone was blocked for sending amateur unwanted Snaps, or for sending serious spam and should have their account shut down.

A rise in Snap spam may be an inevitable growing pain of a social network increasingly becoming a household name. It may have finally passed the threshold of becoming interesting to spammers. Instagram began to endure a similar issue with spam photos and comments, but was in part saved by its acquisition by Facebook. The parent company threw its veteran anti-spam team against the problem and Insta-spam has curtailed.

At the very least, critics may be silenced by Snapchat’s sudden willingness to apologize. Perhaps the flurry of punches from the press finally got to CEO Evan Spiegel. Most people agree that apologizing isn’t a sign of weakness but of respect for users.

[Image: Softonic]

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Developer Spams Google Play With Ripoffs Of Well-Known Apps…Again

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


google play spam

It’s not uncommon to search the Google Play app store and find a number of knock-off or “fake” apps aiming to trick unsuspecting searchers into downloading them over the real thing – especially when the app in question isn’t yet available on Android. But one developer really went out of his or her way over New Year’s to fill the Android app marketplace with a number of rip-offs of big-name startups and other tech companies, including IFTTT, Slideshare, Snapguide, Wolfram Alpha, Fiverr, Upworthy, MySpace, and more.

Many of the apps chosen are still iOS-only, making the matter worse.

Listed under the developer’s very generic name, “Premium App,” the knock-offs sometimes have a “U” following the app’s title, indicating that they’re really just a user’s guide to the service, not the real app. Many, like IFTTT, (which Premium App has ripped off twice – once as “IFTT” instead of “IFTTT” to capitalize on misspellings), are available as paid downloads ranging from $1.36 USD to $2.75 USD.

google play spam3

google play spam2

The apps were released just at the end of December, as the developer was probably hoping to capitalize on a reduced staff handling Google Play app store spam complaints over the holidays. Calling attention to the problem – as we’re doing now – will likely see the apps quickly pulled as Google reacts to the situation. (We reached out to the developer via email, but have not heard back.)

However, the fact that these apps were ever allowed in the first place – for nearly a week in some cases (at least, so far) – highlights a still ongoing problem with the Google Play review process…or rather, the lack of one. This issue has been happening for some time, too, and it’s concerning given that malware is often served up by the faked versions of popular apps. Now, whenever I’m searching for an Android app, I notice I’m always giving it a second look to make sure that I’m not being fooled. Mainstream, less savvy users are probably not as careful, which means they’re the ones getting burned.

As one confused user writes under the fake IFTT app, “Did this app really just come out today? Dec 30,2013?? The day I downloaded it? Seems unlikely. It said 2011 a minute ago. Is this app just a browser?

google play spam4

But as Google explains in its Developer Distribution agreement, the company “does not undertake an obligation to monitor the Products or their content.” (Products, meaning apps.) Instead, Google may remove apps from the store when problems are brought to its attention. That means legitimate developers, in addition to their very many other tasks, have to keep an eye on Google Play to make sure no one is trying to rip them off, and then submit complaints when someone does. At times, Google will also run a massive cleanup of its app store, dealing with the situation in one fell swoop, as opposed to carefully reviewing apps one-by-one.

It’s not like Google doesn’t have staff paying attention to its app store in a more proactive manner. After all, the company was fairly quick to eject the CyanogenMod installer app, which allows users to completely modify standard Android, plus add new features. But unlike modding, fake apps aren’t an immediate threat to Google’s monetization and control over Android like CyanogenMod is, they’re only a threat to the end user’s experience, security, privacy, and…hey, wait…isn’t that enough to warrant more attention, Google?

[Thanks, tipster]

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

I, Spammer

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


spam%20(240%20x%20169)

As I approach the half-way mark of my crowdfunding project, I wanted to address the thing that makes me feel the worst about this whole process: the spam. As I intimated in in my last post, moving from passive content producer to active content salesperson is hard. As someone used to fire-and-forget posting, convincing others to buy something I’ve built is a hard thing to do. And the best way to do it, sadly, is through spam.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.05.33 AM

I pride myself on trying to be a nice guy. I post crowdfunding projects on TC all the time because I think they’re cool and I tend to use social media to either make dumb jokes or talk about projects I’ve seen. Now, however, I have to use social media as a sales tool. I contact the vast majority of my Facebook friends directly, have retweeted comments about the book, and even resorted to contacting my LinkedIn and Google+ contacts although I barely use those services. How did I get the most traction, however?

Email.

Take a look at the image above. Aside from a massive Facebook push around Christmas each of those spikes were driven by an email blast sent out on or around that date. Emails took a few days to appear as pledges but after each email I was able to push the total up by at least $1,000. Even given the horrible click rates, those are very compelling numbers.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.15.32 AM

Now, to be clear, I don’t think it was just the email. These lists consist of people who have signed up for my various projects and folks I’ve met in my travels. They know me and many have the ulterior motive of staying friendly with a TC editor. Would I have the same results of I were some dude selling penis pills online? I sincerely doubt it. However, I could see this working if the email list were in the millions and not in the thousands.

In short, direct contact works best. As one crowdfunder told me “When someone gets an email from you they can do one of two things: ignore it and feel bad/indifferent or act on it.” In my case I was lucky that so many acted on it.

Again, I’ve been consistently amazed how little Twitter and Facebook – aside from direct messages – have contributed to the process. While these tweets and twoots are great for getting the word out – I’m not ungrateful by any means – the actual conversion is limited. Broadcasting “Buy This!” is far less effective than saying “Hey, friend, buy this.”

Do I feel bad about this spam? Well, I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum and now that I’m well past my original $8,000 goal I feel bad for continuing to market. But, in the end, this is a project I love and feel deserves to do well. What would I change in the future? I’d create some sort of system so I don’t re-target backers who have already helped out – that’s something that really upset me and I’ve received two emails from friends about it. Essentially I haven’t found any system for truly segmenting out who I contact although I’m sure solutions exist (and feel free to let me know if you have one).

Still I’m amazed at the reach and power at good old email. It sucks, but it’s true: spam works and it works well. In the end, a nice message, carefully wrought, results in far less blowback than a wonky diet pill email, but the process is the same. Like it or not, direct email is a crowdfunder’s best friend.

This is part of a series on crowdfunding, The Mytro Project. For future posts I’m looking for more input from online analysts and other crowdfunding platforms so please email me at john@techcrunch.com.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Selling Anything

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


deathofasalesman

Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest book is “Choose Yourself!” (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter). Follow James on Twitter @jaltucher.

I’ve never read a book on sales. They seemed corny. Like many people, I always looked down on the concept of “selling.” It seemed like something lower than me.

To some extent, selling appears manipulative. You have a product where you give the perception it has more value than it has in reality. So you need to manipulate people to buy it. This seems sad, as in “Death of a Salesman” sort of sad.

I was a salesman snob.

I was wrong. And for the past 25 years all I have been doing is selling. Selling products, selling services, selling businesses, selling myself.

Sometimes I have been manipulative. And sometimes I’ve sold things I’ve had such passion for I sold it cheap just because I wanted the message out about what I was selling.

And often, it was very much in the middle: I needed to sell something because I had to pay my bills. Maybe I was a little desperate, a little hopeful, a little scared, and I wanted to make sure my family got fed.

We live in a hard world where our basic needs cost money, and as we get older we become responsible for the basic needs of others. We become adults.

Adults sell for today. Professionals sell for life.

So here are the rules of this cheat sheet: None of this comes from a book. All of this is from my own experience. Which means it might not work for you. Which means it might go counter to the basic rules of salesmanship. I have no idea.

I downloaded a book by Og Mandino and by Zig Ziglar but I didn’t read them. Maybe I should.

But I can say that over the past 25 years I’ve sold hundreds of millions of dollars of stuff. That stuff being everything in Pandora’s box that I had to sell just to stay alive. When I think what worked for me, here’s what I come up with:

A) Friendship

Nobody is going to buy from someone they hate. The buyer has to like you and want to be your friend. People pay for friendship.

This sounds sort of whoreish, and it is. The times when I’ve hated myself the most were the times when I’ve prostituted myself to make money (this isn’t as sexual as it sounds but it might as well be).

One time when I was raising money for something, the buyer was going through a business catastrophe and was worried he would go out of business. I didn’t like him but I called him every day for three months at the same time to see if he “wanted to talk” and to offer my advice on how he should deal with his situation.

I eventually raised a lot of money from him even though the first time I met him he was honest with me and said, “it seems like you don’t know your industry very well.”

Which just goes to show: friendship outweighs almost every other factor in selling. One time I wanted to do a website for ABC.com. How did I do it? The main decision maker was involved with a school in Harlem for charity. I went up there for four weeks in a row and played 20 kids simultaneously in chess. Everyone had fun. I got the website job. My competitors were all bigger, better financed, and probably better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like either of those people personally. And eventually, I lost the business.

The only good outcomes come when both sides like each other.

At one point I was so sick of my new “friendships” I went to see a therapist with the clichéd line, “I don’t even know who I am anymore because I hate all my friends and all my friends are customers so I’m their slave friend.”

Now I only do business with people I like. The fastest way to lose all your money, mutilate your heart, and then kill yourself is to work with people you don’t like. I will never do that again.

Nor do you have to, despite what you might think.

B) Saying No

If someone wants to do a big deal with you it’s hard to say “no.” But No is valuable for many reasons:

Opportunity cost. Instead of pursuing something you really don’t want to do, you could free up time and energy to find something more lucrative or something you would enjoy more. Opportunity cost is the one BIGGEST cost in all of our lives. We spend it like there’s no tomorrow.

And guess what? Eventually there’s no tomorrow.

Supply and demand. If you reduce the supply of you (through “No”) then the demand for you goes up and you make more money (and have more fun).

You’ll hate yourself. I see this every day, particularly in my own life. The reason I can write about this is not because I’m an expert. We don’t write about the things we KNOW. We right about the things that are deep down CHALLENGES for us right now. When I say “yes” to something I don’t want to do, I end up hating myself, hating the person I said “yes” to, doing a bad job, and disappointing everyone. I try try try not to do it anymore.

(source: Palookaville by Seth)

(source: Palookaville by Seth)

C) Over-Deliver

If someone pays $100 and you give them just $100 in value then you just failed. F.A.I.L.E.D.

You’ll never sell to that person again. That’s fine in some situations, but in most situations it’s no good. If someone pays $100, you need to give them $110 worth of value.

Think of that extra $10 as going into some sort of karmic bank account that pays interest (as opposed to a U.S. bank account). That money grows and compounds. Eventually, there’s real wealth there. And that wealth translates into wealth in the real world.

People are three-year-olds. They like to get presents.

People want to do business with people who give them presents. Over-delivering is a present. And it makes you feel good. Give and you will receive.

D) Never Take “No” For An Answer

This statement, which everyone knows, is usually applied incorrectly.

People think it means, keep pushing and trying new things until you get a “yes.” That’s not what it means. If you do that, you end up in the spam box. Then you end up in the coffin box. In other words, you end up dead to the person you are trying to sell to.

Instead, remember point A. Be a friend. However flimsy that connection of friendship is. Follow on Twitter, follow on Facebook. Say nice things about the person to other people. Never gossip.

Do the art of the “check in.”

Send updates after the “No” on how you are doing, on how the product or service or business or whatever is doing. Not every day. Maybe once a month. Maybe once a year. Who knows. Eventually you will find the “yes” with that person. It could be, and often is, up to 20 years later.

Who knows? You plant a seed and eventually the garden blooms.

E) Under-price (when it’s your passion so it’s easier to over-deliver)

I once wanted to do the website for Fine Line Films. I loved their movies. I met the guy running their site. He kept saying over and over again, “we can’t afford a lot” and I kept saying, “don’t worry about it” and would show him more and more of our work.

Eventually we did the websites for every one of their movies. $1,000 per website. We made amazing websites for $1,000. Then, when Con Edison wanted to hire us, Nevin at Fine Line was a reference. Price for coned.com (a basic four-page website): $250,000. And that was the first of five websites we did for them plus monthly maintenance.

I write for a lot of places right now for free. Any medium I love, I am willing to write for. It’s like a dream come true for me. The benefits from doing that have been incalculable. Not always financial, but always real.

We are a combination of many constituencies inside of our bodies and minds. Financial is just one. But all of our constituencies need to work together to make us well-balanced and peaceful.

The art of selling, for me, is to have everything inside of me working together.

F) Be The Source

One time I wanted to buy a company. The details of how I would do that are sort of obscure and not important. The company is well-known in the financial media space.

At the critical moment, the owner called me and said, “what should I do? I have this other offer and I have your offer.” He described the other offer to me. I told him to take it.

I missed out on what could have been a lot of money to me. But there was a slight chance we would have all gone bust. Now he is thriving and eight years later he is a friend.

Will we ever do business together? I can’t predict the future. But I know I delivered value to another human being. That value is real and I can put it to use whenever I want.

Often the best way to make friends and customers for life is to direct them to a better service or product than yours.

Be the source of valuable information rather than the source of your “product-of-the-day.” Then they will know forever that you are a trusted source.

Trust is worth more than next month’s rent being paid. Trust builds a bridge that will never wear out. At some point in the distant future, when you are on the run in every other way, you may need to cross that bridge.

G) Sell Everything

Your offering is not your product. Your offering is product, services, your employees, your experiences, your ideas, your other customers, and even (as mentioned above) your competitors. Sell them all.

When you are good at what you do, the product or service you offer is just the way people build the first link to you. It’s the top of a huge pyramid.

But the base of the pyramid, the real service, is when they have access to you and you can provide advice and the full power of your network and experience. This is when you are over-delivering on steroids and how real wealth is built and not just a one-time fee for a service or product.

Many people say, “no! My product is high margin and I want to make money when I sleep.”

Stop going to BS entrepreneur, get-rich conferences. In the long run nobody cares about your product. In the long run, it is the entire holistic view of your offering, your service, you, that you are selling. Without that, you will build a mediocre business that may or may not pay the bills. With that, you will create wealth.

H) Sell The Dream

People can see what your product is right now. What they want to know is…the future. Will your product make them more money? Will it get them a promotion? Maybe even: will YOU hire them if they buy your product.

Everything is possible. When you get in the door, do not sell your product. People make a decision on your product in five seconds. Sell the dream. The dream has up to infinity in value. Build up images of the dream. Give a taste of what the dream is like. Let it linger. Let it weave itself. Let the imagination of the buyer take hold and run with it.

But then, you might ask, do I risk under-delivering.

Answer: Yes. Don’t do that. Be as good as the dream.

I) Fire Customers

This is similar to point B with the one difference that you have already made a sale.

If it’s not going well or if it’s leaving a bad taste somewhere inside of you, or if they have gone from friend to enemy for whatever reason and it seems like there is no repair, then fire your customer. The sooner the better.

This applies to not just customers but everyone in your life. EVERYONE.

If someone no longer has your best interest at heart, then in your own self-interest you need to back off. NOW.

A bad customer (a bad person) spreads like a disease inside you, your employees, your other customers, your competitors, your future customers, your family, etc.

“But what if it’s my biggest customer? How do I pay the bills?”

I don’t know. Figure it out. You have to or you will die.

When I tell people to build their “idea muscle” (by writing down 10 ideas, good or bad, every day) it’s not so they can come up with great business ideas (although they might).

It’s so they can come up with ideas in situations like this. This is where being an idea machine saves your life and saves everything around you.

But remember: bad customers will kill you and your family and your friends.

J) Welcome To The Pleasure Dome

Your best new customers are your old customers. If you need to make more money or build new business then go to your customers (who are now your friends) and ask them, “I need advice. What other service can I provide you or anyone you know.”

It might be something totally unrelated to your business. No problem. Do it. It might be your customer is looking for a new job. That’s great. Make it your business to find him a new job. Now you have a new customer.

It might be your customer needs a boyfriend. Ok, introduce her to all of your friends who might be good for her. If you’ve been following this approach to sales then your customers are now your friends, are now your family, are now the lifeblood of how you wake up in the morning.

We spend years building a garden. We plant the seeds. We tend the soil. We water the plants.

But we are also the sun. The sun shines no matter what. It doesn’t care which flower blossoms. The sun is always there providing value every second of the day.

Be the sun and you will become abundance.

I don’t know the buzzwords to make a sale. I’m not very good at shaking hands. I don’t take people out to baseball games or do any of the things I see other people do.

But I’ve been selling for 25 years. And whenever I’ve been dead broke, depressed, and suicidal, I’ve picked myself up and sold again and again.

I am a salesman.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

YouTube Addresses Massive Spam Problem Following Rollout Of Much-Maligned Google+ Commenting System

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


youtube-google-plus

Google says it’s taking steps to address the increase in YouTube comment spam that arose from the recent shift to the new commenting system powered by Google+. YouTube users have already been fairly displeased with the new system for reasons related to privacy, confusion, and the ability to leave anonymous comments, having already left over 31,000 comments of their own on a video post announcing the changes, many negative. In addition, the most popular petition begging Google to reconsider a move back to the old system has over 215,000 signatures today.

Google+, which is both a destination website and social layer meant to stretch across all Google-owned properties, has been seeping into everything Google puts out, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Blogger, and more. It has also sucked up properties like Picasa and Places, which are now Google+ Photos and Google+ business pages, respectively, into the Google+ identity machine.

But YouTube, Google’s already successful and profitable social networking site, is another matter. Here, users had long established identities of a sort – ones they don’t necessarily want linked to their real names, and ones where they’ve connected with and messaged other YouTube users over the years.

On the YouTube video detailing the change to Google+ comments, there’s an overlay reading: “Thanks for your feedback. We know there are issues with spam and abuse in the new system and we’re working hard to fix them. Click here to learn more.” That link has been directing viewers to a November 6 post on the official YouTube Creators blog, which was updated mid-November with a further acknowledgement of the spam and abuse problems and a promise that fixes were in the works.

It was close as Google got to an admission of failure in terms of its implementation of Google+ comments on YouTube. It’s clear the company didn’t think through the ramifications of a system which would allow Google+ users to include links or other random text in their YouTube comments.

For instance, some commenters are now using ASCII text to leave picture comments, which isn’t abusive as much as it is disruptive – it’s probably not the “high quality” feedback Google had in mind when making this change.

As security researcher Graham Cluley explains today, YouTube may have been home to “some of the most unpleasant, purile and single-braincelled comments in the universe” but it never before had a problem with link spam, because the older commenting system prevented users from leaving messages which included clickable links. But that changed when Google+ comments arrived.

Google had positioned the change as one which would lead to better feedback, for publishers, since it was doing away with the negativity that inevitability arises when anonymous commenting is supported. (Google+ users have to set up accounts using their “real name,” which should have cut down on the abuse.) But better comments were not the result, as it turned out.

Google quickly realized that the system was not as well-guarded against those who would leverage the link-posting capability for less than reputable purposes. Spammers, scammers and those posting malware in link format took advantage of the new system. In his post, Cluley notes that there was so much abuse that some YouTube publishers, including video games reviewer PewDiePie for example, disabled Google+ comments completely after the front pages of its comments sections on videos were filled with links to viruses and spam.

Part of the problem with the abuse is that Google+ favors those whose comments get the most replies. Since many on the web don’t know the ol’ web adage “don’t feed the trolls,” spamming and abusive comments would rise to the top as other angry commenters responded.

On Monday, Google finally issued a progress report on the efforts it has made at addressing the spam and abuse. Again on the YouTube Creators blog, the company announced that video site has now made a number of changes to combat the increase in spammy comments. These include: “better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts,” “improved ASCII art detection,” and “changing how long comments are displayed,” the post explains. 

“We know the spam issues made it hard to use the new system at first, and we’re excited to see more of you getting involved as we’ve fixed issues,” reads the post signed by the “YouTube Comments Team.”

The company also promised other changes were in the works, too, such as threaded conversations, formatted comments, and the much-requested option of bulk moderation. And the comments team added also that they’re still working on “improving comment ranking,” which will continue to be necessary as scammers try to find workarounds to the new system and get their comments moved up to the top yet again.

[Image credits: YouTube, GrahamCluley/PewDiePie]

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Don’t Spam Facebook With Fake Bieber Porn Unless You Want To Get Sued

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


biebergomez

The only thing better than porn is celebrity porn, but that doesn’t mean you should use it as bait in a Facebook spam operation.

That’s what a man named Christopher Peter Tarquini is alleged to have done, and as expected, Facebook isn’t so pleased with his actions and has named Tarquini in court documents.

According to the BBC, Facebook spent $5,000 in the last year investigating Tarquini’s online behavior, who it said was posting “deceptive messages, images, and links” to users’ pages promising celebrity sex tapes, including an alleged Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez romp.

Users who couldn’t resist clicking (understandably) would be automatically sent to third-party websites, generating an affiliate commission for Tarquini. Plus, the script with pictures and links was automatically posted to those users’ timelines.

According to reports, Tarquini continued to spam Facebook even after being told that he was violating the social network’s terms of service.

Facebook is seeking reimbursement for the money and resources it spent investigating his spam blasts, and looking to ban him from Facebook for life.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Twitter’s Theoretically Temporary URL Messaging Ban Due To Massive Wave Of DM Spam

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 9.51.50 AM

Late yesterday afternoon many Twitter users began to notice that they could no longer send Direct Messages containing URLs. The complaints about the issue gained steam late into the night, when we reported that Twitter said a ‘technical issue’ was behind the problem with DMs.

Well, it turns out that the technical issue may have been referring to the handling of Direct Message spam, not with the sending of URLs. Specifically, we’re hearing from sources inside the company that a wave of hacked accounts a few weeks ago has led to a massive rise in DM spam, where links are sent to users in the hopes that they will click and enter personal information to be collected by scammers. The idea that spam was behind the ban was posited by a report in ReadWrite last night.

What we’re hearing is that the rise in DM spam ended up garnering attention inside Twitter up to the point where an executive inside Twitter’s C-suite got DM spammed. Hence the abrupt ban on URLs inside DMs until the issue can be sorted out.

When we reported on the issue last night, we noted that the cause of the errors could be a bug, or a response to DM spam. In this case, it appears that the ban on sending URLs via DM is a temporary patch to aid in fixing the spam problem, but at this point we have no information about whether this is a permanent measure.

The inconsistencies that we noticed with regards to the sending and receiving of URLs is due to the fact that Verified users and advertisers are exempted from the ban on sending links in DMs. This would impede, of course, the efforts of marketers using Twitter’s legitimate advertising platform to send DMs, something that is part of the flow of a few of Twitter’s ad products. Alcohol advertisers, for instance, use the DMs to verify ages and more. There are also some whitelisted URLs, as noted by the ReadWrite report Facebook, Instagram and Twitter links appear to work, and there are likely others on the list.

We have reached out to Twitter for more information about the DM spam and what measures it’s taking to curb it.

Image Credit: 55Laney69 / Flickr CC

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Twitter Solves The Follow-Back Tango, Enables Direct Messages From All Your Followers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


twitter

Twitter has pushed out a feature update that is extremely useful for journalists like myself, and anyone else who hopes to use Twitter to communicate both publicly and privately. The social network now lets you receive Direct Messages from any of your followers, regardless of whether you follow them or not.

This eliminates the age-old hassle of receiving @-replies that ask you to follow-back so that someone can DM you some information or a message of questionable value. Sometimes, it even seems like users treat this as a DM honey-pot – i.e., flaunt some potentially useful information in hopes of scoring a permanent follower in return. Now, you’ll be able to receive DMs from anyone who follows you, so long as you go into your Twitter account’s main settings page and check the box that allows it.

Limiting DMs to those you followed served a couple of purposes: For one, it encouraged network growth, by providing a reason to follow others back, but more importantly, it limited the amount of spam you could receive via private message. DMs were kept relatively spotless, except when phishing scams inevitably percolated, resulting in weird messages in your Twitter inbox from people you trust, or in cases of bad judgement in terms of who users themselves chose to follow.

Enabling this option could potentially mean open season on your Twitter inbox, and that’s probably why it’s off by default – but if dealing with a potential influx of spam is worth opening up a new channel of communication for you, then this is a welcome change indeed.

Via Verge.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

A Year Of Spam: The Twoo Experience

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


trackback-spam

Twoo, “the fastest growing place to meet new people,” has been spamming people for over a year.

Users have been complaining that they get unsolicited emails from the app, that the app messages all of their contacts without their understanding, and that it’s unclear how to delete their accounts.

I covered Twoo’s questionable growth techniques a year ago, when co-founder and CEO Lorenz Bogaert said it was “just not clear enough.” He claimed, “We do not send any messages without the prior consent of the user,” and said the company “had already decided to add an additional confirmation step to avoid any unintended actions.”

And yet, a year later, problems with Twoo persist. The connect with friends via email component, which is what users have complained about the most, looks functionally the same as when I wrote about the company a year ago.

Search “Twoo spam” on Twitter (don’t dare trying just “Twoo,” it’s an island of misfit grammar), and you’ll see user complaints from the past three years.

@Twoo are you crazy? sending emails to _all_ emails in my gmail-account? I even got 5 invitations from myself! #spam

— Andreas Beer (@tueksta) July 31, 2013

Hahahaha. Speaking of Twoo’s spam practices, they even sent an email invite to my e-printer… gosh that was confusing!

— Benjamin Lupton (@balupton) November 14, 2012

Dear @Twoo, plz stop #spam emails. Am irritated with ur automated mail system. Getting mails even after un-subscription.

— Vijayakumar Selvaraj (@mrvijayakumar) January 4, 2012

Similar complaints have surfaced in over one hundred comments on my original Twoo story, and in Apple App store and Google Play store reviews (although there are a number of positive reviews in those stores as well).

Twoo offers a number of explanations in its Privacy Policy and FAQs–#7 is “Twoo sends invitations to my e-mail contacts without my permission.” In the Privacy Policy, the company states:

“Twoo offers members an easy import tool to invite their mail contacts to register on Twoo. If you decide to import your contacts, you confirm that you have their consent to do so and you accept that an automatic e-mail invitation and reminder will be sent on your behalf to the contacts you have selected. Twoo stores the contact details of your friends only for the purpose of automatically connecting them with you after their registration.”

A year ago, I wrote, “At the very best, the site is unnecessarily confusing. At the worst, it is purposefully complex in order to message unsuspecting users’ contacts to increase its membership.”

It’s now clear that the latter is true. Twoo uses these confusing tactics, from auto-selecting every address in your contacts book to making a “next” button that looks like it skips the email connect step but actually is just another “connect” button, to grow its user base–according to the site, Twoo has over 15 million (!!) active users.

While tech publications cover more high profile companies’ growth techniques, Twoo is rarely covered. And while this is certainly not affecting users at the same scale as the infamous Scamville,  Twoo is driving some people crazy, with little recourse.

The company is located in Belgium, and the only contact information I could find on the site was the generic email address info-en@twoo.com. It looks like Twoo responds to some complaints via Twitter; most of its replies point users to its terms of service, or links to unsubscribe or delete their accounts, but several users say they receive mail even after unsubscribing and/or cannot delete their accounts.

At the time of publication, neither Twoo nor Bogaert had responded to multiple requests for comment.

Image via.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

October 2014
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031