Remember those affiliate links on Pinterest that had everyone so worried about copyrights? It turns out that they actually protected us from spammers like Steve, who use hundreds of fake Pinterest accounts to sell products on Amazon.
Using a script called Skimlinks, Pinterest used to replace any affiliate links on the site with their own so that they could get a cut of the online sales generated from images posted to the site. Without these links, the spammers have free reign.
TotalPinterest was suspicious when they saw the tell-tale signs of hollow profile details, re-pins of products with no visual appeal (Bottles of Cetaphil? Really?), and robotic-sounding comments, all of which contained either an affiliate link or a direct link to a product on Amazon.com.
Pinterest’s algorithm rewards engagement like re-pins, likes, and comments, so having multiple accounts ensures that the spammer will appear to have a following. In this case, the suspicious pins all led back to one user: finalfantas07-20.
When Pinterest caught wind of the situation, they removed all pins containing this spammer’s affiliate ID from the “Popular” tab. But there were more where that came from.
That’s when the spammer contacted the Daily Dot to explain himself. “Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now,” wrote the 24-year-old named Steve, who provided a screenshot of his account to prove his identity. “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.”
Steve started in February, and within a few weeks, he was making more than $1,000 a day. The spammer expects to make even more until Pinterest inevitably shuts him down. The rest of the interview, located here, is worth a read for Steve’s candor and lack of remorse.
Pinterest has a spam policy, as does Amazon, so we wish them luck fighting guys like Steve. As for the Steves of the world, we hope next time they’ll at least spam us with something that will look nice in our living rooms.
Image by FuzzBones via Shutterstock.