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Porn bots are now storming Twitter's trending topics

“...if this does not scare you, call me on whatsapp”
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Edgar Alvarez/Engadget

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Instagram isn't the only social media app being invaded by porn bots. Now they're on Twitter, too. For the past few days, as I was scrolling through Twitter's trending section, I noticed a number of accounts showing similar behavior as the bots that have taken over Instagram comments. But, whereas on Instagram they're leaving messages like "We gonna ignore the fact that I've GOT A HUGE BOOTY?" or "DON'T LOOK at my STORY, if you don't want to M A S T U R B A T E !" on Twitter the spam also includes pictures of women in bikinis and a bunch of words relevant to topics currently trending on Twitter. And they're even more brazen in their attempts to lure in gullible readers, with messages like "I moan very much during sex, if this does not scare you, call me on whatsapp."

One account Tweeted, "Marzia Pewds KickItOut Tusk Will Keane Irish Sea Phil Lynoott Chopra josh kroenke Lavazza Joe Sugg Dulux Nick Timothy Ben Unwin Amy Adams US Steel Little Brother USA Network Congrats Felix." US Steel was trending on Twitter on Tuesday after reports that the company plans to lay off hundreds of workers in Michigan, while Amy Adams was getting thousands of birthday wishes from people. The goal of these spam accounts, all of which are pretending to be women, seems to be the same as their Instagram counterparts: to get you to visit a sketchy porn site that will then ask for your personal information, including email address, age, location and, if you get far enough, credit card number.

Twitter

What's more interesting is that the accounts we discovered showed up under the "Top" tab of Twitter's trending section, not "Latest," meaning they were one of the first things people saw if they viewed the river of tweets on any hot topic. All the accounts were created in August and they used the "Pinned Tweet" feature of the app to try to promote a website. "Looking for a guy with a good dick and for sex and relationships," tweeted the account @calvi_anna, whose tweets and pictures have now all been removed. In that same pinned tweet, the bot added, "My WhatsApp is on the site in the profile information about me, call me. Watch my private videos for free after a simple registration."

Thing is, even if you did want to get into a relationship with "calvin_anna," once you click on the URL she tweeted, you get redirected to sites like snapfuck.com, benaughty.com or onenightfriend.com. Some of these are the same sites you'll come across when you fall for a scheme from the bots leaving comments on Instagram, except on Twitter they're using trending topics to run their operation.

Twitter

Twitter told Engadget it is working hard to ensure this type of spam doesn't appear in search results or conversations. But, the company said, sometimes it can miss these dubious accounts and when that happens people do have the option to report them.

And while Twitter doesn't explicitly ban adult content, its "Sensitive media policy" does state that users can't post full or partial nudity "within areas that are highly visible on Twitter, including in live video, profile or header images." These porn bots aren't violating that policy, but it's clear they're not authentic -- and Twitter does have guidelines against that. According to the Twitter Rules on authenticity, "You may not use Twitter's services in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people's experience on Twitter."

The appearance of these accounts on Twitter's trending topics comes at a time when the feature is already under heavy scrutiny. Just last week, it was blamed for gaslighting conspiracy theories about Jeffrey Epstein, the American millionaire and convicted sex offender who recently commited suicide in a New York City jail. The porn/spam bots may not be as harmful and toxic as the spread of fake news, but it shows that Twitter is struggling to control the type of content that shows up on there.

Thankfully for Twitter, right now this bot problem doesn't seem to be quite as widespread as it is on Instagram -- and their spam blasts are only getting a handful likes and retweets. That said, the company is going to have to remain vigilant if it wants to keep these NSFW scammers under control. Because once celebrities like Chrissy Teigen start tweeting about it, it may be too late to stop them.

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