Digital LandScape :

Beware: That Twitter account may be a robot

It was only a matter of time that unsullied ground that was Twitter was to become as dark and dangerous as the general web. It just shows that less characters and banal comments can still land you in a world of hurt if you click on the wrong link.

Twitter was not the first place to see them but the micro blogging service has driven the use of and the creation of services to produce them more than any other single reason, that being the URL shortening service. The URL shortened link is sort of like a land mine in plain sight, should I click? Is there juicy HTML candy behind that shortened link or a nasty dose of malware?

If I could not get a rise of concern out of you, maybe Joshua Schacter can do the trick in his well elucidated, joshua schachter’s blog.

As if not knowing the validity of a shortened link was not enough to raise alarm, now there is the fake Twitter account, yes that’s right, fake Twitter accounts generated in droves by automation. They have all the convincing signs of real Twitter accounts: the differing account user names and profiles, strangely mostly German and different city locations in the US. And for that extra flair personal uniqueness, their own wall papers.

These accounts generate automated Tweets, either from keyword pickups or retweeting a real human message. Of coarse they go to the usual locations, websites designed to make you think something is wrong with your computer and enticing you with their fix. More about all this at F-Secure, “Mass-generating fake Twitter accounts for profit”.

Special thanks goes out to Timeless Prototype for this heads up.

Originally published in the Swiss online newspaper,, reedited for WholeThinking.

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