Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spamming PInterest for $$$$$$ !!

To 13 million people and counting, Pinterest is just a hot new social network for image sharing.

But to spammers, the still-new site is an easy mark for exploitation—and easy money. Spammers are turning innocent users’ clicks into cash by running thousands of automated Pinterest profiles, and they’re getting away with it for longer than any of them expected.

At Black Hat World, a forum where spammers share tips and tricks, user gimme4free has gamed Pinterest so easily that he’s selling a botting and scripting program to help others to quickly and easily generate thousands of bot profiles to spam the site automatically.

“In January I thought to give them a try by making up a couple of bots,” he wrote.  

“After the success rates that I was seeing I decided to create a whole package of bots, which I have been using non-stop since the day, with just a couple of account bans.”

Those bans, he said,  were caused by “excessive spamming and also they even lasted a few days before being shut down!”

The program generates an army of bots and connects it to the spammer’s Amazon Affiliate account, where he’ll automatically earn money every time a user from Pinterest clicks the pin and makes the Amazon purchase.

The kit will sets the spammer back a cool $249, but gimme4free assures fellow spammers it’s worth it.

“The traffic from Pinterest is 'paying' traffic,” he wrote. “I have even had some of my pins gain comments within just minutes with the Pinterest users saying, ‘Thanks, just bought this’ !!!”

Spotting a bot account hasn’t been that challenging in the past. But this program could change things, making bot accounts trickier to detect.

This program games each part of the Pinterest process. First, it generates its own invitations, bypassing Pinterest’s invite-only status. Next, it automatically schedules pins and follows others by the seconds. Wiithin minutes, a bot account could have thousands of pins and followers.

The bots also are programmed to like and even comment on other users’ pins in order to appear more human.

Gimme4free isn’t the only spammer who has figured out a way to work Pinterest.

A user named JackSparrow has developed a simple six-line script that bypasses the number of users one Pinterest profile can follow in a day. Ordinarily, Pinterest’s scripts cap that number at 200. But with a spammer’s ingenuity, one profile can follow upwards of one million people in a day.

Blogger Josh Davis, who tipped off the Daily Dot to these forum posts, said he warned Pinterest cofounder Ben Silbermann last month about the vulnerabilities these spammers are exploiting.

“I talked to Ben about the issue of gaming their system and spam,” Davis told us in an instant message. “I shared this forum because it is a good way for companies to view what the spammers are doing, and I suggested they could use this information to fight these bots in a proactive manner.

No matter how Pinterest chooses to combat spam, its abundant traffic will continue to make it a tantalizing target. When we reached out to Pinterest for a comment, a spokesperson told us that dealing with bots is a top priority:

“As a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the Web. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to address them quickly. Our engineers actively work to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.”


A 24-year-old man who calls himself “Steve” makes more than $1,000 per day pinning Amazon product links onPinterest, one of 2012′s hottest social networks.

Taking advantage of the startup’s fast growth and optimaluser demographics — consisting mostly of brand-savvy women with an annual household income of more than $100,000 and a love of shopping — spammers are making huge amounts of money just by pinning items to Pinterest and directing consumers to make purchases on Amazon.

The Daily Dot published an interview with Pinterest spammer Steve after exposing an underground community of spammers targeting the hot site.

On Amazon, he uses various accounts including the name “final-fantas07.” At one time, thousands of his spambots are sharing posts on Pinterest. He showcases products to the Pinterest community, appealing especially to women, who repin posts and buy items linked to Steve’s Amazon accounts.

“Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now,” Steve told The Daily Dot. “Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam. It requires almost no work to get started and no money to invest. You just have to know how the system works and how you can fix it to your advantage.”

Pinterest Scam Amazon

He’s made up to $1,900 a day since he started spamming Feb. 20. The above image was Pinned with a link to Steve’s Amazon account, through which fake user “Nancy Nelon” only pins items from The Pinterest account is also linked to a Twitter feed that bears no activity and a different first name.

“I fully expect next week’s earnings to be $2,000 to $2,500 a day. There are no guarantees in this business and it could all come crashing down soon,” he said. “Not a matter of if, but when will it happen.”

Out of Steve’s collection of fake accounts, he says, Pinterest has only deleted one.

Pinterest acknowledges it is working on minimizing the spam users see. In a statement sent to Mashable, the company said:

As a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the web, including spam. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to quickly address them. Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.

The Daily Dot did a follow-up interview with the spammer in which Steve states: “It was a hoax, period … I thought it would be funny to play this prank seeing how popular Pinterest is and see how fast it could go viral. Honestly, if it hadn’t grabbed this much attention I probably would have kept playing along.”

Although Steve is taking back his claims, The Daily Dot points out that many of his original claims proved true.

The Amazon account “final-fantas07″ — one Steve claimed as his own — was indeed linked to many Pinterest pins.

The publication also found a Black Hat World message board, on which self-proclaimed spammers confirmed Steve’s money-making methods.

Messages like this one, from BHW user meathead1234, support Steve’s original claims: “He could probably have hit some pretty good numbers if he just kept quiet for a while. I have a few sites doing $1000/day right now and I would NOT tell anyone about them or how they earn.”

4 Tips for Avoiding Pinterest Spam:

  • Avoid repinning or clicking on pins that use logos of big brands, but aren’t affiliated with any official accounts:

Spam on Pinterest

  • These links open up to windows that ask you to repin to win unofficial contests, like this:
  • Pinterest Scams

  • If a pin is advertises a free gift card and the source looks fishy, avoid clicking.
  • Avoid pins that aren’t sourced and link to suspicious websites. And don’t repin items from Pinterest users with extraordinarily weird user names and Pinterest accounts with no description or picture.
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    1 comment:

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