Here’s why Pinterest is a spammer’s paradise

spam pinterestDespite its attempts to right some inherent wrongs, Pinterest continues to struggle to purge its site of copyright questions and spammy content. This time, it’s the latter causing problems.

As users may have realized, Pinterest has lately had a spam issue – and that can in part be traced to the fact that the site is a playground for the stuff. Pinterest’s M.O. is to circulate and thus promote images.  It’s not about human interaction or reflection. It’s just asking for fake accounts to take to the site and artificially pin and repin products from here to oblivion. You can make fake profiles on Facebook and Twitter, of course, but in order to deluge users with content you usually need some sort of link or written message to pull them to a site to look at a product – but Pinterest has cut out these middle men with its entirely visual medium and repinning-based model. The fact that you don’t have to be friends with someone to see their posts also works in a spammer’s favor: on Twitter and Facebook, I’m only going to see what you’re showing if I follow you back or if I approve your friendship – not the case over on Pinterest.

Where’s the harm, you ask? Well depending on the product being pinned and repinned in question, there might not be any. Pinterest is supposed to be a place to look at pretty pictures of things you can buy, for the most part. Unless you have some weird moral hang-up with the fact that those pictures were put there by a fake account rather than a real honest-to-goodness pinner, it shouldn’t matter a whole lot.

best buy spamThe larger implication is the fact that Pinterest could be overrun by other types of ill-fitting, disruptive spam, like the Best Buy ads that flooded the site recently (at right). You could probably chalk that up to an isolated incident, if it weren’t for one spammer that’s revealing how very easy it is to target Pinterest.

The Daily Dot recently interviewed a spammer that goes by the handle final-fantas07 but says his real name is Steve. “Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now,” he told the site. “Quite possible 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.”

“When I started I did a test run to see what kind of traffic I could get. I manually posted pins for 4 hours straight and let them sit for day,” he says. “Next day I made something like $20 I think. So I decided to automate it cause [sic] I could see the huge potential this had.” Steve says he expects to bring in as much as $2,000-$2,500 a day next week, but notes that it’s anything but a safe job. “There are no guarantees in this business and it could all come crashing down soon. Not a matter of if, but when will it happen.”

Steve explains that he hasn’t upload viruses to other users’ systems, but has simply used bots to automate spreading product pictures around Pinterest. “I realize that I’m spamming the crap out of the site, but its [sic] nothing personal.”

And in a sense, he’s right. Steve is putting pictures on Pinterest and promoting them – of course he’s artificially inflating their popularity, but in essence he isn’t breaking what the platform is supposed to do. Since day one, the critics (myself included) of Pinterest have seen the site as a giant marketing tool, a hub for pushing products. And some people really like this new, visual marketing tool, which is fine. But it comes with its consequences, and one of them is spammers heavily influencing what you’re seeing: now when you look at a repinned photo, you might want to check out who’s doing all that repinning. Does the profile look like this?

fakeIf so, then it very well could be a spambot.

So what does this all mean for Pinterest? The young and very ambitious site has seemingly been caught in the crosshairs since its launch. New isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s certainly proving complicated. Spam will cause distrust and frustration, so unless Pinterest targets this – and fast – it could hurt user numbers (not to mention public perception).

And while Steve isn’t circulating malware-laden spam, someone else might. Given how ripe the site is for this type of activity, it’s probably only a matter of time.

It’s time for major clean-up. Pinterest needs to implement a way to customize your feed so the bulletin isn’t overrun with spam, or else the user registration process needs to be run over with a fine (finer) tooth comb. The idea of a collective visual space is all well and good but the Internet will always figure out a way to manipulate it. 

Movies & TV

In Avengers: Endgame, Marvel saved its best (and biggest) for last

Marvel Studios concludes its 22-film saga with Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War and the culmination of more than a decade of movies. It gives fans one of the franchise's most epic and emotional installments so far.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in May 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. May 2019 brings the Deadwood movie, the final episode of Game of Thrones, and the PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 on HBO.
Movies & TV

Clip from John Wick: Chapter 3 confirms the dog is totally fine

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook data security, Ubisoft helps Notre Dame, and more

Join DT Live as we discuss Facebook security issues, Ubisoft's plan to help rebuild Notre Dame, and more. We are also joined by Emily Teteut of Snap the Gap, Jennifer Sendrow of New York Public Radio, and DJ and producer Zeke Thomas.
Photography

After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.