"Looks like I´m single again" Why can't Twitter deal with this spam?

Twitter has never really solved its spam problem. It is a constant irritation that ordinary people get booted off the service for minor infractions, while large spam rings go unpunished.

For the past few months, some of my old tweets have been getting liked by random women. I'm sure you've see something similar.

Lucy liking one of my Tweets.

The idea is, I suppose, to arouse your curiosity. "Who is this young woman showering me with attention? I'd better check her profile!"

Lucy's profile says she is young, single, and lives in the UK.

Gosh! Young, pretty, single, and she's interested in me!!! WOWEE!

Scroll down, and you'll see lots of videos of the woman dancing, posing for the camera, and generally Tweeting plausibly generic statements.

Lucy's photos and videos.

But... I've got a nagging feeling that I've seen this woman - and her bio - before. I've seen it a lot.

Dozens of accounts with identical bios saying that the woman is single again.

By my count, there's at least 60 of these identikit spam accounts. They all have the same bio - with the same idiosyncratic punctuation of "I´m". And they all post identical content. Whether it's "Olivia", "Amelia", or "Lucy" - it appears to be the same set of photos and videos. Possibly stolen from some unwitting person's private account.

Montage of several accounts, all posting the same media.

The avatar changes, as do the captions on the photos. But it is mostly identical media posted in the same order.

If you scroll back far enough through the (identical) spam content, you can usually find archaeological evidence of the previous user.

Lucy tweeting in French from 2013.

They all seem to follow this pattern. Accounts which were last active several years ago, which have been re-purposed into spam. A few are more recently active - this one still has the author's pinned Tweet from a few months ago.

Pinned Tweet showing a book for sale.

I suspect credential stuffing - or the hack of a once-popular Twitter app.

So, what happens if you're daft enough to follow one of these spam-sirens? You get a DM pretty quickly.

Hey, what's up?  You just caught me watching Netflix, have you watched The Queen's Gambit on there?  I broke up with my boyfriend not so long ago so got hooked on a series. I am a little bored. Maybe a little bit too bored.  What's do you do? Are you bored too? Do you like my booty?  I am rarely on Twitter, there are more pics of me here. photo66-tinder.fun/pixie My nickname’s PIXIE, add DM me there and I will send you some hot pics.

This totally real person is watching TV, just like me! Oh, and she has sent an unsolicited "booty" pic - just like a regular girl! Wow! I'd better follow her on this not-at-all shady site…

It is such boring, obvious spam. It doesn't require some super-advanced AI to detect.

If an account suddenly changes its name and profile image - especially on a dormant account - that should be flagged.

Posting content - in the same order - as other spam accounts? Flagged!

Sending DMs with a link to a spam site? Flagged!

Sure, shutting down these obvious spam accounts may lead spammers and fraudsters to try more complex routes to evade detection. It's all an arms race.

But when Twitter doesn't make the bare minimum effort to protect users, then it begins to smell a bit like negligence.

6 thoughts on “"Looks like I´m single again" Why can't Twitter deal with this spam?

  1. says:

    A fair point about this developing into an arms race... but considering that would be spammers versus Twitter, and Twitter control the platform, you'd hope they'd have an advantage ...

  2. says:

    @edent this pest is going on in every network and I really don’t get the point and I’m left with so many questions. Aren’t there very explicit apps for this that make it way easier to get to the targeted audience? Do they really have to flood random social networks with this? How does this pay off at all? Do people really engage with such blatant fake accounts?

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