Oh that innocent, kind, friendly social network for photo sharing as fallen prey to trolls with the rise of Instagram spam bots.
One of the most irritating and potentially dangerous aspects to life online these days are the trolls and twisted people who seek to exploit the kindness of strangers in return for a quick buck. Most of the major social networks (and users) must deal with fake accounts, spam and other bots – automated accounts – which exploit security holes for profit. Facebook clamped down last week on click-baiting.
According to The Verge, the new Instagram spam bots have employed a new tactic: creating fake accounts which look just like the accounts of real users. It’s all part of the huge black market for fake followers – across all major social channels – sought by cheap users who want to appear more influential than they really are.
“In order to sell follows and likes, spammers must control legions of accounts,” explains The Verge. “It’s tough to construct 1,000 fake personas, so these spammers seem to have taken a shortcut. By aping a real account word for word, photo for photo, they can put on a pretty good act.”
The fake Instagram accounts appear – at first – to be authentic accounts and mirror almost precisely what a genuine account looks like online. Same posted photos, same information and everything. But an only slightly closer examinations reveals the difference.
You will quickly know if a troll has captured your Instagram account, particularly if you tag friends in photos (as do most Instragramers). Your friends will let you know.
“Most of the fake accounts tend to follow thousands of people and don’t have many followers themselves,” The Verge reports. “A subset of the accounts they are following have more than 10,000, and sometimes 100,000 followers.”
And The Verge points to the Instagram account @nfengphoto as a fake account, imitating another and buying followers. Notice the huge disparity between followers and accounts followed. (This is often true, also, on Twitter and other networks.)
A black market for fake Instagram likes has existed for a while, along with black markets for Twitter followers and Facebook likes and click-throughs. But with the demise of Facebook page organic reach, that threat should be fading by now.
Twitter launches bug bounty program
Twitter is fighting back against sloths and weasels and trolls by hiring security firm HackerOne to offer bounties (that’s right, bounties) to other security researchers to report – responsibly – threats to the Twitterverse.
“Twitter may provide rewards to eligible reporters of qualifying vulnerabilities,” Twitter says. “Our minimum reward is $140 USD. There is no maximum reward. Reward amounts may vary depending upon the severity of the vulnerability reported. Twitter will determine in its discretion whether a reward should be granted and the amount of the reward. This is not a contest or competition. Rewards may be provided on an ongoing basis so long as this program is active.”
The program is only available for security experts who enroll and will only cover Twitter-owned properties and domains: Twitter.com, ads.twitter, mobile Twitter, TweetDeck, apps.twitter. Third-party Twitter utilities – of which there are many – are not included.