How to Avoid Being Scammed on Twitter
Twitter was created in 2006 and now has over 200 million active users around the world who use it for everything from keeping up with news, creating online communities, and posting jokes and memes.
But, as with any platform as large as Twitter, there are scammers online looking for prey. Because Twitter only requires an email address to create an account, and no other form of identification (like most social media platforms) it is vulnerable to people creating spam and bot accounts, and even coming back online after they are banned.
There are a number of scams to be aware of if you’re on, or thinking of joining Twitter. Here are the main ones, and how to spot and hopefully avoid them.
While Twitter has attempted to combat this, there are still many fake, or ‘bot’ accounts on Twitter. These are accounts, created and run by computer programs or bots that are designed to do a number of things. They may retweet or share false information, they may exist to boost people’s following, or they may be used as part of a different scam, such as a romance scam, to encourage users to sign up to fraudulent websites.
There’s no guaranteed technique to spotting a bot, but there are a number of quick checks you can do:
- Check the @name of the account. Bots frequently have names with a large number of numbers after their name, e.g., @sally97375 – this is to ensure the username is unique
- Check their history. Bots tend to be newer accounts, as Twitter generally tries to remove them and they are replaced, and don’t tweet often. They will have low follower numbers and few tweets, if any
- Check what the bot is retweeting or replying to, does it look like the content is designed to be provocative or prejudiced? If so, the account may be a bot.
Pay for follower scams
Many people using twitter are trying to gain more followers; however, paying for them is usually not advised. Many of these services are scams, and you will not gain any more followers, just lose your money. And even if you do get a bump, these followers will all be bots rather than real people. Not only does this mean your follower count will go down as these accounts are removed, but also, paying for followers is against Twitters usage policy, and could result in your account being banned.
Earn on Twitter scams
Fraudsters will suggest that you can earn money on Twitter by tweeting or retweeting about certain products. Fraudsters will then ask you to sign up to a website, for a small fee, that will give you access to their ‘money making’ platform. Beware, you will not get paid for any tweets, and fraudster will likely continue to charge your card until you cancel the payment manually.
While some branded partnerships on twitter do exist, these are generally reserved for people with large followings, and will come with personal introductions. They will also never ask for a fee upfront.
One of the signs that you’ve made it on Twitter is when your account becomes ‘verified’. This indicates that Twitter has checked that you are who you say you are, and is indicated by a blue tick next to the account name. Most verified accounts belong to brands and celebrities. Many people want to become verified, but the process is convoluted and not available to the general public. Therefore, fraudsters abuse this lack of transparency but offering ‘verification services’.
Usually, this will involved filling in a form. However, this form is actually a tool to mine your account data. Once you submit your details, your account is now in the hands of scammers.
There is no such thing as a verification service. If twitter is attempting to verify your account, they will contact you directly through the email that your account is registered to.
Overall, approach Twitter as you would any other social media site. Look carefully at anything that is asking you for money or payment upfront, and be conscious of who the accounts you interact with belong to.