Trending topics spamming techniques – beware the fake tweet

After watching the ABC’s QANDA last night it was good to see the phrase “Julian Morrow” trending in Australia, he was a great panelist after all. Like many others in the country I do enjoy watching TV shows like QANDA or Masterchef whilst following what others are saying on Twitter at the same time.

However waking up this morning and seeing “Julian Morrow” was still trending in AU made me suspicious. Digging into the tweets that were keeping his name there revealed a very annoying spam technique that is sadly gaining traction.

On the left is a screenshot of the last 8 tweets containing “Julian Morrow”. If you take a closer look you can see they are all based on the same formula in that they contain a) the trending topic, b) a compressed URL and c) a phrase inviting a click, such as: “OMG This is awesome…”, “This is really funny…” or “Wow! I’d purchase it..”.

What the compressed URL’s link to I cannot say – as a general rule I don’t click on them, worried about where I might end up. But these are spam tweets – posted by bots or spammers wanting you to click through on their URL to either generate another page impression on the destination site or to potentially direct you to a page that could do something much worse.

So as a word of warning, if a tweet is a) from an unknown source, b) contains a list of several trending topics in one place and c) has a phrase that looks like it was written by a 14 year old, the suggestion would be not to click on it. You never know where you might end up.