Twitter and Romance Scams

This article should take around 3 minutes 8 seconds to read.

Twitter has a problem with romance scams (a variant of the famous 419 scams) especially romance scams targeting female users, and I thought I’d use my latest scammer to look into the issue.

As you can see “Richard” here is following 170 people and has never tweeted.

As may not be surprising, everyone “Richard” follows appears to be a women

But what is interesting is so many of us appear to be based in Scotland / political. I’m guessing that “Richard” doesn’t really care which women he follows, they are just hoping that enough of us fall for him and give him money.
So why is their such a cluster of Scottish political women they are following? My guess is they started with a single woman and followed all the women that profile was following/follows since people interested in similar topics this tactic is likely to form a group of women with similar interests.

Not only does “Richard” not follow and men (or NB people) they only one guy follows them…

Yoann, “Richard”‘s only male friend

Yoann, hasn’t tweeted much, but he does have an Instagram account

Sadly my browser doesn’t render the emojis well, but he claimes to be a 15-year-old male model from the Ivory Coast. he also has a second Instagram account

On his Twitter bio Yoann claims to come from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Is this 15 year old kid, the scammer behind “Richard” who knows but I’ve reached out to him for comment.

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Keeping users safe from hate.

This article should take around 2 minutes 50 seconds to read.
Facebook and Twitter, two of the most popular (in the “west” at any rate) social media platforms both have a (well deserved) reputation for being places where hate festers.

Both Facebook and Twitter are worldwide communities, anyone with a working internet connection can signup and become friends with anyone else in the world.

The flip side of that is they can harass and intimidate anyone else in the world.

That hate is not only bad for the users, but it’s also bad for the company, people harassed tend to leave the service.

This isn’t a technical people so much as a social one. Of course, hatred of others is a problem as old as humans, over time it’s served us well, when we lived in small groups of up to 150 odd people, distrusting the village on the other side of the hill, or people who didn’t do as the wider community did, was a successful system. However, as time’s gone on, we have lived in larger and larger community’s and the hatred and distrust of other groups have become less and less useful.

Technology such as content filters are a technological solution and are an important but limited solution. Another prong is to combat the social problem directly.

Of the two social media platforms noted above it is Twitter which has the worst problem with online hated, I believe this is in part due to how Twitter allows interaction. In order to see a post on Facebook, you must either be a member of a group and have a post posted to that group, or friends with another user, whose posts you then can see. In order to be friends with someone, you need to request a friendship and have them confirm that friendship. With Twitter in contrast by default all posts are public and can be responded to by anyone. This open model has allowed Twitter to grow rapidly but also allows anyone to contact anyone else, giving harassers an opening.

It appears, and my personal observations support this, that friends don’t harass you, but friends of friends do. Once you’re removed from knowing the person you’re talking to its far easier to harass them.

Given the above point, it appears the root cause of the bulk of the harassment on Facebook and Twitter is the comments of people you don’t know. And so, assuming, the goal is to minimise harassment, a Facebook-like “friend” system (rather than Twitters follow system) where you can’t see the comment of people, you’re not friends with sounds like a good solution. However, this limits what you can see, it may be better to allow users to “see” anything but only to be able to respond to things if they are friends of the OP, and throes comment be invisible anyone other than the OP and commentator (and backend services).

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