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Twitter Spam: 3 Common Scams
Better beware of spams, cons and twitomercials
Bernard Moon (bernard)     Print Article 
Published 2009-06-25 00:37 (KST)   
Spam is an ever-growing concern. Currently, over 90 percent of all emails sent worldwide is spam. When I left South Korea in 2004, a hotbed of SMS activity, over 25 percent of my SMS messages was spam.

However, spam is a unique and special concern for Twitter. This is because Twitter is a broadcast system and you can easily accumulate contacts beyond your circle of close friends.

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Last May when I predicted that Twitter would go mainstream, I warned about spam as Twitter's popularity grew. Now spammers are becoming more prevalent on Twitter.

In order to better understand how these unwanted entities are filling Twitter with their junk, I have categorized Twitter scammers into three buckets: Twitomercials, Straight Cons, and Clueless Cons.


Twitomercials are legitimate businesses that shamelessly pitch their products through endless repetitive streams of tweets through dummy accounts. They remind me of late-night infomercials that repeat endlessly on cable channels.

쏶hamWow, you셪l say WOW everytime! is the catchphrase for the (super) absorbent towel with the goofy but slick salesman providing demo after demo of their supposedly incredible product. The Twitter equivalent is an account with the picture of an attractive girl with various tweets pitching the same product:

쏱ermanent Hair Removal Treatment (http://sellhard.com/5j4k)

쏧s Laser Hair Removal Right for You? (http://sellhard.com/5i5o)

쏤acial Hair Removal For Women? What Are Your Options? (http://sellhard.com/5hiz)

Just be thankful video isn셳 enabled directly on Twitter.

Straight Cons

Straight Cons are blatant scams that most people recognize, apart from that susceptible 0.1 percent of the population. Some of you might have that one distant cousin who actually wired US$1,000 to the Central Bank of Nigeria to claim five million from a long-lost great uncle who had no progeny.

This is the primary pitch for one Straight Con Twitter account I came across:

쏷his System Makes Me At Least $171,168.06 Per Month And You Can Start Using It 15 Minutes From Now

Awesome. $171,168.06 per month? They must have some incredible algorithms to get it down to the pennies. MIT PhDs no doubt. Sign me up!

Clueless Cons

These are cons that have taken a basic concept and raised it to a whole new level of stupidity. One that I came across several times now is 쐉oint venture marketing and 쐉oint venture gold. My guess is that they must have overheard their friend who went to business school (or who read a book about business school) talk about joint ventures and thought it was a hot concept that they could actually sell. I love this line from one of the profiles:

쏪oint ventures are the roads to fortune. When I finally understood that the money is mostly made on the back-end instead of the front-end, well, I got excited!

Do they even realize a joint venture is just a type of partnership a company might form with another company? And that it isn셳 a concept that deserves a whole category within marketing or corporate development?

I was thinking of some equivalents to 쐉oint venture marketing in other fields. It would be like a chef trying to sell 쐂eep fried cooking or 쐁harbroiled cooking in an infomercial.

Often times, these accounts will mix in tweets about their money making schemes with tweets about mundane topics.

Tip of the Iceberg

The Twitomercials, Straight Cons, and Clueless Cons are just the tip of the iceberg. Anything online scammers and cons have been doing on e-mail or the web will shortly be adapted to Twitter and any other popular new medium that could yield profits.

So in the coming year, Twitter will have a real spam problem. Unless they do something about it, these profiles and scams are bound to grow.

I just hope that Twitter won셳 go the way of MySpace, where fake accounts are abundant and the majority of my 쐄riend requests come from small businesses pitching a product or scammers trying to sell their fool셲 gold. MySpace grew because of its wild, wild west environment, but eventually it became too unruly for most people.

To flourish, Twitter has to find ways to stem the rising tide of scams. It would be a shame to see Twitter flooded by the same people that have overtaken email, SMS, and my home landline (hate those telemarketers!).
Originally published at Mashable.

Bernard is Vice President of the Lunsford Group, which is a private holding company consisting of entities in technology, media, research & consulting, health care, investment boutique, and real estate. He blogs at Silicon Moon.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bernard Moon

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