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Requests from visitors who look like real users responding to tweets are redirected to the porn spam sites.
Because the links promoted by those spammy Twitter accounts all abused short link services from Twitter and Google, the researchers were able to see that this entire botnet has generated more than 30 million unique clicks from February to June 2017.
Online dating starts off like window shopping—avoid anything too heavy or serious. All of the accounts I have found online state that she created fake males.
Anyone who replied was ultimately referred to subscription-based online dating sites run by Deniro Marketing, a company based in California.
[SIDE NOTE: Anyone seeking more context about what’s being promoted here can check out the Web site datinggold[dot]com [Caution: Not-Safe-for-Work], which suggests it’s an affiliate program that rewards marketers who drive new signups to its array of “online dating” offerings — mostly “cheating,” “hookup” and “affair-themed” sites like “Adsfor Sex,” “Affair Hookups,” and “Local Cheaters.” Note that this program is only interested in male signups.] Allen said the Twitter botnet relies heavily on accounts that have been “aged” for a period of time as another method to evade anti-spam techniques used by Twitter, which may treat tweets from new accounts with more prejudice than those from established accounts.
Zero FOX said about 20 percent of the Twitter accounts identified as part of the botnet were aged at least one year before sending their first tweet, and that the botnet overall demonstrates that these affiliate programs have remained lucrative by evolving to harness social media.
Those profile links are shortened with Google’s link shortening service, which then redirects to a free hosting domain in the dot-tk (.tk) domain space (is the country code for Tokelau — a group of atolls in the South Pacific).
From there the system is smart enough to redirect users back to Twitter if they appear to be part of any automated attempt to crawl the links (e.g.