March 27, 2012 at 5:57 PM ET
With so many people taking to Pinterest like popcorn, the social networking, scrapbook-style bulletin board for all things material has also become a breeding ground for spammers. Along with others in the tech news world, we have run stories warning that spammers are looking to take advantage of the site's eager and new users.
Surprisingly, one of those spammers, a 24-year-old named Steve, contacted The Daily Dot about his methods. He claims that out of thousands of his automated spambots, Pinterest has only banned one so far, and that he nets over $1,000 a day on the site, said The Daily Dot, which shared its Q-and-A-style interview with him.
Pinterest, Steve says, "is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now. 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."
That bold statement is not exaggeration. As one of our partners, SecurityNewsDaily noted recently, "because Pinterest allows its users to view bulletin posts (pins) from everyone, not just friends, and users can follow anyone they like without asking for permission," the site is, as one staffer from security firm Bitdefender put it, "Scam heaven."
Here are some excerpts from the Steve interview on Daily Dot, which is worth reading in full:
How do you describe what it is you do? We’ll refer to it as spamming for now. Have you spammed other social networks before?
It’s spam; no other way of putting it. I’ve been through Facebook and Twitter. I'm sure if you ever heard of one of those spammy looking Facebook apps, I was one of the ones doing that.
What do you do when your bots get shut down? What would you do if they all got shut down, and could that ever happen?
Back when I started on Feb. 20, you could pin as many pictures as you wanted to with the same account and all the pins would show up on the boards. Well they changed that around the 23rd I think, and they banned one account. That was my first and only ban so far, maybe more when this interview is publicly posted. Oh how sad I would be. But like I said before, I do have a stockpile of accounts and I can easily create more if needed.
Do you feel any guilt about what you're doing? What would you like to say to Pinterest users who like, friend, and click on your bots — if anything?
Nope, I have no guilt. I'm not trying to scam anyone, or upload viruses to their computer or anything like that. I simply show products to the Pinterest community. I realize that I'm spamming the crap out of the site, but it's nothing personal, just business.
Just business -- maybe to him. But spam, whether containing malware or not, is still a headache for users. And for Pinterest users in particular, with the site recently reaching 2 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S., "becoming the fastest site to cross the 10 million mark in history," noted Laptop.
McAfee has some helpful tips to avoid getting caught up in Pinterest spam, including staying away from offers that appear too good to be true, and "avoid re-pinning them so they aren’t propagated further." Also, "regularly review your pin board and remove any pins that might be suspicious."