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February 13 2014

Apple Files Patent For Automated Disposable Email Addresses To Help Handle Spam
trackback-spamA new Apple patent application published today (via AppleInsider) details a system for heading off email spam and tracking its source. The tech automates a process many people now use manually, setting up temporary email addresses to be used for web service signups, which can then be thrown away when compromised by a spammy service, and provide clues as to which provider betrayed your trust. The system would automatically generate disposable email addresses based on the service you want to use it with, and possibly contain an identifier in its construction to let you know where spam is coming from. So, for instance, if you signed up for Service X, the email might be “” Managing said email addresses and dealing with cutting off the ones that are subject to spam can be done through web and app graphic user interfaces, as described in the patent, too. Spam is a problem that only increases the more we use email and the web, and addresses not diligently maintained can quickly become overwhelmed with inbound communications from services not necessarily being responsible with your shared information. Apple may seem like an odd candidate as someone trying to tackle this problem, but the company has iCloud and acts as an email provider as part of that product’s suite of cloud services. It’s in the company’s best interest to minimize spam and help pare down on email address churn – if users can manage to keep one permanent address safe from spammers, they won’t have to change their main contact info frequently, which has benefits in terms of protecting the integrity of iTunes and Apple ID accounts.
Tags: TC Apple spam email

January 02 2014

Developer Spams Google Play With Ripoffs Of Well-Known Apps…Again
google play spamIt's not uncommon to search the Google Play app store and find a number of knock-off or "fake" apps aiming to trick unsuspecting searchers into downloading them over the real thing - especially when the app in question isn't yet available on Android. But one developer really went out of his or her way over New Year's to fill the Android app marketplace with a number of rip-offs of big-name startups and other tech companies, including IFTTT, Slideshare, Snapguide, Wolfram Alpha, Fiverr, Upworthy, MySpace, and more

December 31 2013

I, Spammer
spam%20(240%20x%20169)As I approach the half-way mark of my crowdfunding project, I wanted to address the thing that makes me feel the worst about this whole process: the spam. As I intimated in in my last post, moving from passive content producer to active content salesperson is hard. As someone used to fire-and-forget posting, convincing others to buy something I've built is a hard thing to do. And the best way to do it, sadly, is through spam.

August 04 2013

A Year Of Spam: The Twoo Experience
Twoo, “the fastest growing place to meet new people,” has been spamming people for over a year. Users have been complaining that they get unsolicited mail from the app, that the app emails all of their contacts without their understanding, and that it’s unclear how to delete their accounts.
Tags: Drama TC Twoo spam

July 08 2013

Why Twitter Finally Killed The “Auto Follow” For Good
Fresh on the heels of a spam report which painted Twitter as the network with the largest underground economy for the buying and selling of fake followers, the social network has finally taken steps to crack down on one of the tools often used by those attempting to game its service: the Auto Follow. In Twitter's parlance, an auto follow refers to an immediate, and programmatic means of following another user back after they follow you.

August 14 2012

Drupal Company Acquires Akismet Competitor Mollom To Kill Spam Dead
Today Acquia, the company co-founded by Drupal creator Dries Buytaert to commercialize the open source content management system, acquired Mollom, a spam filtering service also co-founded by Buytaert. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Acquia CEO Tom Erickson tells me the Mollom service will continue to be available for non-Drupal users and pricing will remain unchanged.

August 01 2012

Google Tightens Up App Policy, Gets Stricter On Naming/Icon, Payments, Privacy, Ads And Spam Rules [Developer Letter]
Looks like Google Play is growing up, combing its hair and trying to move away from its Wild West image: Android's app store team has sent out a letter to its tens of thousands of developers informing them that it is making several changes to tighten its developer app policies. Areas that are covered include naming apps, app icons, payments, privacy, spam and advertising -- effectively, a set of changes that sweep across many of the areas that have been a source of controversy and frustration for developers, and users of their apps. Developers of new apps will be required to meet the new policy changes from now; apps that are seen to violate these rules, Google says, will have 30 days to comply with them, or risk app store ejection. However, that might be very messy to implement retroactively in some cases, for example in the naming conventions. In others, by explicity naming what are now no-nos, it could make it easier for Google to simply eject apps that do not comply.
Dropbox Reports User Accounts Were Hijacked, Adds New Security Features
Several weeks ago, reports started to trickle out that a number of Dropbox users were under attack from spam. Since then, Dropbox has been investigating those attacks (with some help from a third-party) and today gave the first update on the progress, saying that some accounts were indeed accessed by hackers, but that it is now adding two-factor authentication and other security features to prevent further problems. For some background: On July 17th, a number of Dropbox users begun noticing an increase in the level spam attacking their accounts. As Sarah reported at the time, the red flag appeared when users begun reporting that the email accounts receiving spam were in fact only tied to their Dropbox accounts, which indicated that the address leak had come from Dropbox itself. Many of those reports came from the company's international users, including Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

May 10 2012

Major Bummer: WriteThat.Name Wants You To Pay To Keep It From Spamming Your Friends
Shame on you, WriteThat.Name. After more than one personal recommendation, not to mention glowing reviews around the web, I finally got around to signing up for WriteThat.Name, a service which automatically updates your Gmail address book with your contacts' current information, which it pulls from their email signature lines. To be clear, the service is not new - we covered its $1.55 million seed round in January. But you know how it goes, things launch, you forget about them for a while, then you find them again thinking, "wow, how did I miss that?!" The service sounded amazing, and in the brief period of time I used it, it worked beautifully. It seemed like one of those under-the-radar must-haves that just make life easier. But something I came across in the settings concerned me. WriteThat.Name wanted me to pay in order to keep it from spamming my friends? What?

April 05 2012

Twitter Puts Its Foot Down, Takes Five Biggest Spammers To Federal Court
A warning: You can only spam Twitter so much before it brings in the law. As Twitter grows -- the company now claims to have 140 million active users -- naturally, it's become an attractive target for spammers, which have collectively made their drek a familiar part of the social network's user experience. Now Twitter is officially putting its foot down and enlisting the help of the federal courts, filing a suit in San Francisco today against its five most aggressive spammers. In pursuing legal action, Twitter said in a statement on its blog, it believes it's going "straight to the source".

October 31 2011

Tumblr Acknowledges Its Growing Spam Problem, Says It’s Doing Everything It Can
Is Tumblr facing a growing spam problem? For many regular users of the blogging platform, the answer is "yes." Although Tumblr hasn't taken to its own blog to provide a public update on its progress in fighting spam, it did recently address the concerns of a high-profile Tumblr user - the associate producer of NPR's Fresh Air, Melody Kramer, who maintains a blog for the popular program hosted on the Tumblr platform. To Kramer, Tumblr acknowledged that it's aware of a recent increase in spam blogs and is "doing everything we can to quickly suspend these blogs and to keep more of them from being created."

October 28 2011

Facebook Sees 600,000 Comprised Logins Per Day
New figures from Facebook reveal how often the social networking site's users are hacked. In the blog post announcing the forthcoming "Trusted Friends" feature, Facebook also an included infographic detailing Facebook's security measures. One figure in particular jumped out at security researchers: every day, "only .06%" of Facebook's 1 billion logins are compromised. Or, to put it another way, 600,000 logins per day are compromised.

June 27 2011


January 09 2011


How Not To Be Influential? Quora Spam On Mechanical Turk

There’s has been much discussion in the past couple of days about how Quora can handle its recent explosive growth, avoid becoming a Yahoo Answers (i.e. full of nonsense and spam) and scale with grace.

As further evidence of a growing success problem, Google spam avenger Matt Cutts points us to this evidence of Quora fraud through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Ironically the above Human Intelligence Task (HIT) involves voting up Internet marketer Larry Genkin’s answer to the very popular and highly contested question “How do you become influential?”

Quora’s official policy on paying people for upvotes:

“Solicitation for upvotes is not allowed on and users are not allowed make offers to (1) buy upvotes, (2) reward users for upvotes with consideration, and/or (3) trade for upvotes.”

Someone has already made reference to the Mechanical Turk HIT under the answer in question. And the answer has been “collapsed” because of the policy violation, which means that no matter how many upvotes it receives paid or unpaid  it won’t show up. Repeat offenders of Quora policy are warned and then potentially blocked.

Founder Adam D’Angelo tells us that there is currently no system in place to search for/or prevent this kind of spamming “This isn’t a common enough problem for us to have standard procedures or systems built out yet. But maintaining the integrity of our system is really important to us, so we’re going to invest a lot in it as we grow.”

While this isn’t the first time Quora has been involved with Mechanical Turk, right now the “How do you become influential?” item is the only Mechanical Turk task that I can find related to Quora. In contrast there are countless offers to click “Follow” on Twitter and “Like” on Facebook for pay.

Quora recently addressed concerns about the difficult problem of maintaining site integrity in a post entitled “Commitment to Keeping Quora High Quality.“ It’s a start.

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