Twitter users, you might want to rethink clicking on that picture. I’m not sure if other sites have reported on this yet, so we’re taking the opportunity to issue a warning by explaining what Twitter spammers are now doing to encourage you to click into their sites and, potentially, download harmful files.
I’ve decided to call it Trend Hijacking, for lack of a better term. Here’s what’s happening.
Spammers will create a post, exactly like what you see at the head of this article, and they’ll make sure to include as many trending topics as they can. They’ll link to a site containing malware, and the site’s featured image will be something like what you see in the tweet above.
The spammers are intentionally using images that automatically cut off when running through timelines. The fact is, there is no “Wasted Emma” at the bottom of that image. Well, not that specific image. Normally, clicking an image on Twitter expands that image without leaving the site or application. Here, the image won’t expand, it’s just a link to the article. That article might automatically start a download or direct your phone to a suspicious application. The latter just happened to me while writing this post.
The images these spammers use tend to be sexual, too, so be on the lookout.
An actual, expandable image on Twitter looks different. Here’s an example, just for clarity. Notice, the image has no link below it in the timeline. There’s no URL or website title. Just an image below the tweet in question.
So, check your clicks. Make sure the image is just an image if it seems suspicious. Of course, legitimate sites tweet out images alongside articles, too. In those cases, make sure you trust the site in question before clicking through.
The Internet is weird, folks.