How Twitter phishing can be good for you (seriously)

What a week, horny 24-year olds, people exchanging pictures and free shares – yes that was the week that was on Twitter as phishing scams ran riot across the social network. It’s been such fun.

No really, I know people say that phishing is bad and that people are trying to steal your identity to do dastardly things (all true), but as long as you speedily change your password you should in most cases be fine.

That aside it turns out that there is a massive plus side to phishing scams: it actually acts as a prompt to reconnect with people – yes to social network. Who would have thought it, but it seems that sometimes you need a little wake-up call to make those connections. Go figure.



My week started with a jolly message from an unnamed digital consultant that went like this: “Ha ha. This your????” It came across with a friendly link to click on that would take me through a simple online process to steal my Twitter account and spam my followers. You probably got that one.

To be honest I might have clicked on this link myself if I hadn’t already read a warning on Twitter about this attack. Seriously, I would have done. I make no claims to be any kind of genius. Pictures of me you say? I’m as narcissistic as you’re average social media junkie.

Some people have come out all serious and questioned how people fall for this shit over and over (to be fair much good advice was also on offer).

Really it is pretty simple. We all click on endless links in the day and shortened URLs while a total character saver bonus are a godsend to spammers. You have no idea where you will end-up. Likely hood, it won’t be in Kansas.

The same thing happened on Facebook last year as did other attacks on Twitter. I know I clicked on one that time, but now won’t click on anything in a direct message unless it sounds work related. So note to scammers: send me links with text that says “I’ve found the secret to social media ROI” and my password details are yours.


I almost fell out my chair when I got my second phishing email from another journalist who was trying to convince me he was a horny 24-year old girl. I know, totally juvenile, but somehow seeing the names of people you know next to quite ridiculous claims is kind of funny. I did check with Ben before publishing his name: he’s cool with it.

The Guardian Money Blog has news of a third scam that involves a share scam, but I haven’t seen that one. No surprise it involves overseas fraudsters. Apparently if you give them your details you will make a killing. Honest.

I digress, kind of, I wanted to finish talking about the temporary state of forced socialisation. I was reading Maureen O’Connor’s post on Gawker and she makes a good point:

One by one, I informed my new old friends that I had not been thinking of them, but jeopardizing their security. They were forgiving. Among the lessons I learned:

    * 1. Phishing scams will never die, because it’s not just grannies who click on them, but a whole new generation of gullible idiots, because tinyURLs make me so curious.
    * 2. The biggest surprise: I actually like most of my Twitter friends. (Not counting celebrity follows. They never respond, anyway.) Unlike Facebook’s tyranny of forced social reciprocation, Twitter follows tend to be limited to the people you actually find interesting. Being reminded to communicate with this group of people wasn’t so bad.

I’m sure Twitter will get a handle on the spam, but even if a couple of people click on dodgy links the results aren’t (all) bad.



  • Jacquie Bowser

    I got that same message from Ben and it cracked me up!

  • Gordon Macmillan

    I was giggling away like a girl. At first I wasn’t sure it was spam.

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