Social spam: Endorsed by Viagra hawkers, online gambling -- and GOP?

Web security firm says political operatives are using black-hat spammers to spread propaganda about Republican candidates

Page 2 of 2

They posted fake or questionable news reports up to 200 times per hour to thousands of blogs, per Risher. They logged on using the names of candidates and popular celebrities (or near alphabetical matches like "Tirn Tebow" instead of "Tim Tebow") to make deliberately asinine statements or to fool other commenters that famous people shared these views.

Impermium estimates that 85 percent of people who get their news online encountered this spam in some form. While this practice is not technically illegal, it is fraudulent and deceptive, and it probably violates the terms of service on most sites.

My guess -- and this is pure speculation -- is that this tactic is not endorsed by the individual campaigns. Super PACs that have oodles of cash, little transparency, and even fewer scruples seem more likely to hire Viagra spammers to sling mud. For all we know, it could be the Democrats hiring these guys to make everyone look bad, though I think that's also unlikely. No matter -- anyone who's feeding cash to these slimeballs needs to go down.

Lest you think this is a partisan screed, I asked Risher whether the same tactics are used in the service of Democrats. His response: Yes, but it's nowhere near as voluminous, and for obvious reasons -- we all know who the Dems' candidate is. However, he expects this to become a common political tactic. He wrote:

As we move towards the Fall 2012 General Elections, we predict that politically driven social spam volumes will continue to increase and will involve practically every major candidate no matter Democrat, Independent or Republican.

Remember: The next time you get into a political discussion online, you may be arguing with a spambot. That, Risher notes, would be even more futile than usual.

Who do you think is slinging all this mud? Weigh in below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com. Note to all those comment spambots out there: Don't even try.

This article, "Social spam: Endorsed by Viagra hawkers, online gambling -- and GOP?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

| 1 2 Page 2
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
View Comments
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies