Twitter zombies and content theft

A few days ago, I noticed a new follower that didn’t look quite right. Check it out for yourself (@KoriWilbur).

I’ve never been a fan of people who use Twitter just to spray links – especially if they all lead back to the same site. There’s very little value in such a Twitter account. But when an account like this shows up, and all of the tweets have something in them that looks like a pattern (here the “$ ” preceding the actual content of the tweet, it looks even more strange. What’s funnier though, is Twitter on iOS provides a list of three accounts that are “Similar to …” and links to them. So when KoriWilbur started following and the account stood out, I happened to notice the similar accounts that Twitter said were similar. Man, was Twitter spot on.

Twitter recommended @CorettaBerk, @LuannJohn, @HilmaErvin, @LilliMoffett, and @MieshaTuttle, among many others. The more I refreshed, the more accounts it provided that were eerily similar. There were dozens and dozens of accounts using this same MO.

The person building out these accounts did a really exceptional job of trying to bury their “undeadness”. They always seem to have a unique profile picture and usernames that match full names (always female, as Twitter grifters like to do), some actual pictures/videos that the profile has posted, which tends to lend authenticity to a zo semi-unique bio, and the URL in their bio is always self referencing (back to their own Twitter profile). A key difference was that different accounts used a different tweet suffix than the “$ ” that my original follower did, such as “! “, “@ “, or “# ” (note that it often, but not always seemed to be a shift+numkey value – another example was “\\ “). Also, it appears that they try to often use different URL shorteners across the accounts, even when linking to the same topic.

Speaking of links Рthe links always go to mobilephoneadvise.com, which I had never heard of before this. Now I know why. They just plagiarize content.

Take a look at this post on mobilephoneadvise.com. Now take a look at this post on TechCrunch. They’ve blatantly lifted content off of TechCrunch (which seems to be the favorite site for mobilephoneadvice.com to steal from) and posted it on their own site. Intermingled amongst the pilfered content are links to games. Not even game reviews, mind you, just the same approach to games as content. See this game site, and then the post about the game on mobilephoneadvise.com. The entire overview paragraph is lifted from the developer’s site. At a quick glance, at least one the samples I downloaded even appeared to be malware.

In short, there’s nothing good going on at that site, and they’re another example of individuals gaming Twitter for personal gain – and in this case stealing content and possibly infecting devices to do so.

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