Spotting Spam on Twitter and Facebook

Posted by admin on 12/6/2012


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Spam gets us all on occasion. While I am incredibly careful and adept at spotting it even my own Twitter account was notified of possible suspicious activity and being hacked.

You know the messages, we’ve all seen them. They typically involve some sort of friendly call to action, playing on your own fears of becoming an embarrassing internet sensation.”Did you even know they were filming you!? [add link here]”  These messages are cleverly tailored to seem like a friend informally letting you know of something you might find concerning, that you’ve been filmed, or photos of you or something of that nature, and they are prevalent both on Facebook and on Twitter.

The links, always a garbled mess of letters giving you no clue as to the source, appear as shortened links on both networks (despite Facebook not shortening URL’s) because it conceals the true URL which in many cases would betray the malicious nature of the content.

Learn to spot these traits, and be prepared for them to change. Computers and accounts are treasure troves of data for companies both legitimate and illegitimate, and it is relatively simple to lead most people into giving up credentials that protect that data. Here is how you protect yourself:

Proactively:

  • If you believe a message may be spam do not click on the link. Check with the person or account that sent you the link and ask them to confirm they sent it, if they do not reply or say no (generally people will know they’ve been hacked by this point) erase the message and move on with your life.
  • Never click on an unsolicited link, even from good friends and the message is incredibly enticing. Always double check they sent you the link, and ask what the content is. Maybe awkward, but it’s better than dealing with a virus.
  • Twitter: Be careful whom you grant access to your twitter account. Those login pages that are required for all those apps you use? They are all possibly malicious. Be vigilant, make sure you trust the company you are granting access to. If not, look it up and be sure it is legitimate.
  • Always check the URL of sites asking for username and password, especially if you are there as the result of an email link or social media link.

How to fix it:

Twitter: When you are hacked on Twitter, generally speaking it is because you unknowingly gave up your username and password information to a malicious app creator. To avoid this only sign up for apps that appear legitimate. If you are hacked, however, you should proceed to twitter settings > App Access > scan the list of apps to be sure nothing sketchy is there. Once you have cleared the suspicious app from access, immediately change your password.

Facebook: If Facebook believes you’ve been hacked they will generally shut down your account temporarily. To regain access, follow these instructions from them: https://www.facebook.com/help/117450615006715/

If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to let me know at simon@flockinteractive.com

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