Traditional methods of fighting spam include careful browsing and analysis of links before clicking them, as well as a internet security and other kinds of software to keep associated malware at bay. Social media giant Twitter is taking the fight to the next level, and surprisingly some hackers are stepping up to help them.
Twitter announced last month that they would be pursuing lawsuits against five of its most blatant spam providers in a statement published on the site's blog. The company is aware that these third parties currently sell batches of thousands of accounts to specifically assist spammers get the kind of volume they need to massively distribute their unsolicited advertising information in the easiest way possible for them. This results in more profit for spammers but it also creates about 200 million junk tweets a day according to Twitter's numbers.
After two years of unsuccessfully attempting to get spam under control through internal monitoring and manually shutting down suspected bot accounts, the company has finally resorted to filing a federal suit in San Francisco against the sites it sees as the biggest contributors to the spam epidemic. In response, the founder of one of the companies being sued, Skootle, has filed a countersuit stating their products are legitimate tools for clients to increase visibility, and they can't be responsible for how they choose to use the services according to the suit printed by Above The Law. Skootle's statement insists that they aren't intended for spamming purposes, but Twitter still holds in their suit that the nature of the services offered lend themselves specifically to spamming other users.
"We've focused on tool providers," Twitter said in a Reuters release. "They have willfully created tools that enable others to propagate spam on Twitter … By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from have these services at their disposal."
Surprisingly, though, other hackers have moved to stand in the company's corner in a data security breach published online for the entire internet to review. A group of anonymous hackers recently posted a list of over 55,000 usernames and passwords to accounts they claim are actually spam and bot clients, creating a five-page spreadsheet on filing sharing site Pastebin. While about half of the listed accounts are actually duplicates or were restricted from Twitter prior to their information being leaked, the naming patterns and password combinations appear to be computer generated in nature rather than organic accounts, according to a report on ZNet. The site is trying to discredit the leak and according to MSNBC Twitter is already taking
action to reissue new passwords to affected accounts.
Speculation by the internet community about Twitter black markets for account creation and sharing have sprung up since the information leak according to ZNet. The source of the breach hasn't stepped forward to reveal themselves, but there are some considering it could have been a white hate operation or an internal affair, especially because of pending litigation. It Twitter has started working with hackers under the table to locate spammers and increase their content security, they wouldn't be the first. Facebook is encouraging hackers to try and take their site security apart according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald. In return for helping the website locate and fix data protection issues, Facebook offers payment for every issue uncovered as well as public praise.