Twitter Alert: Be Careful With Your Email

Spammers May Have Another Trick in Twitter

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Spammers have found a new way to use Twitter. This one lets them harvest email addresses easily,  and use these addresses to do their dirty business. The good news is that you can avoid this practice by simply not tweeting your email address. Have other tips to avoid being spammed? Share them with WebProNews readers.

I was having a talk with Twellow‘s lead developer Matthew Daines, and he pointed out that a simple query on Twitter Search can return large numbers of email addresses that spammers could potentially exploit.

Ed's Note: WebProNews Does Not Condone This Type of Behavior!

"You can sit and just watch the email addresses steadily trickle in," he noted. "I wouldn’t doubt it if spammers are harvesting these."

Results for such a query might look something like this:

email query on Twitter Search

"It would be trivial to write a script that gathers these addresses," he added. "They could have several hundred thousand over a few weeks at the rate they trickle in."

The ability to search for email addresses has always existed on search engines like Google, but Twitter and it’s real-time updates brings a whole new element to the matter. They come in fast, and they’re always going to be up to date. This is why it could be enticing for spammers.

"The Twitter stream really weeds out all sorts of irrelevant data and cuts right to the email addresses within 140 characters, so it’s a lot less intense, and would require very little coding skill," says Daines. "The thing is this makes it just too easy to get email addresses."

Warren Riddle at Switched makes a good point about the threat. The retention rate among Twitter users has not been the greatest, and the potential for spammers to harvest users’ email addresses might turn some off too, although the ball is in the users’ court on this one.

Twitter may want to consider taking some kind of precautions to prevent this kind of abuse. Spam is already a huge problem plaguing email and the web. When a service continues to grow in popularity the way Twitter continues to do, such abuse should be a great concern.

The lesson here is: Don’t throw your email address in your tweets unless you want it to be searchable. That means it will be vulnerable to this kind of practice.

Some are probably thinking that this is common sense, but looking at the query that the above screenshot is lifted from makes it pretty clear that people are not really thinking about this. And if they are, they must not care.

Are you worried that spammers are getting your email address on Twitter? Tell us.

Twitter Alert: Be Careful With Your Email
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  • http://www.controldatainc.com Collection

    Well this finally explains why we have been bombarded with junk e-mails since we started using twitter. IMHO twitter is over rated anyhow.

  • http://bellingham-washington-homes.com Ryan

    I don’t mind sending trusted individuals my e-mail address via Twitter PM’s, but I would advertise them on my Tweets. It never really occurred to me that people would post their actual e-mail address on Twitter. It certainly sounds like an invitation for spammers.

  • http://www.chickencoopplan.net chicken coop plans

    Spammers really don’t do any good online. They just pissing off twitter users. Personally, I hate getting emails from spammers. It only eats the memory of my email.

  • http://practiceturningpoints.com Practice Turning Points

    Since I know about this, now I start to worry about

  • http://www.seductivegoddess1.info kari

    wow, good to know.

  • http://www.timesharescheap.net Tony Lee

    I never add my email to my tweets. To do so is just asking for trouble. Most emails I see are just spam ads anyway.

    I’m not sure there is any value in collecting email addresses from folks spamming twitter anyway, it’s just spammers meeting other spammers…

  • http://twittertycoons.com TwitterTycoons

    As a wise man once said, “Anywhere sheeple congregate for inane bullsh*t, they are just asking to get spammed to death. ”

    This goes doubly true when they post their emails! I was just reading where someone was robbed after he posted he was taking his family on vacation. He’s an Internet marketer and had his home address on his website linked from his account.

  • Guest

    spammers are the “somkers” of the internet you see them, you smell them , you give’em dirty looks ,but you know down and under that they will always be there some where. They’ll go away when the internet disapears.

    Sam the Man

  • http://www.itchimes.com Web Development Company

    Thanks for sharing this informative article. Thanks alot.

  • http://motyar.tk Dharmveer Motyar

    you know one man did a great think for spammers.. after reading this article.. he make a system to reply all twitter user who post any mail id..

    listen wt happened ..

    i posted a mail id on twitter .. (good for spammers)

    he replied me a warning.. and deleted that tweet..

    but how to delete my mail id from his tweet status…

    best way for spammers … subscribe his rss feed (http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/69295332.rss)

    you know he is — http://twitter.com/emailbot

    thanx for your time.

  • http://www.drive-wipe.com/ drive wipe

    This is really a good information. we will be extra cautious using the twitter. thanks for such a important information.

  • http://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk silicon beach training

    The latest tools for dealing with twitter spammers are quite good, some allow you to report them. Some allow you to unfollow or block potentail spammers. Have just written a tutorial about it you can see it here http://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk/free-resources/identify-twitter-spammers/

  • http://www.yahire.com Sarah Johnston

    Hackers are always one step ahead! Do my head in

  • http://www.capitalhire.com Capital

    I cannot believe a site as big as twitter cannot secure its users info. We need a body with the authority to fine these sites for poor security.

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