Beware the Twitter Follower Scam

While browsing through various tweets, I saw this one. Intrigued, I clicked through. There, I was presented with a video explaining how, if I joined this website, I would get thousands of followers *AND* get paid. Of course, my “scam alert” sirens went off immediately. Here’s the basic run down. First, I would give them my Twitter username and password. (*siren blares*) After that, everyone who had previously joined the system would be automatically set to follow me and I would be set to follow all of them. Next, for each person that I convinced to join, I would be paid $10 per month per user you convince to join. (*siren blares*) And how much for this “wonderful opportunity”? Only $1. (*siren stops blaring but only because it has overloaded and exploded in a humongous fireball*)

The first danger, of course, is giving these people your Twitter username and password. There’s a reason that Twitter launched OAuth. With OAuth, you can grant a site the permission to take some actions under your account’s name, but the site can’t take over your account. If at any point you change your mind, you can take back the authorization and the site will lose access to your Twitter account. By giving these people your username and password, though, they could completely take over your account. They could change the e-mail address on the account and change the password, locking you out of your own account. It is *never* a good idea to give your Twitter password out to anyone. Even if the site is benign, they could be hacked and your Twitter account could be stolen by the hackers.

Putting that aside for the moment, though, something sounded off to me about the payments. So I pay $1 to join, but get paid $10 per month for referrals? I dug a little deeper and there seemed to be some sort of monthly fee. If that $1 was monthly instead of a one time fee, it still wouldn’t be enough money to cover the payouts. Let’s supposed that one hundred people joined. That’s $100 per month going to the site. Now five of those people convince two people each to join. So 110 people are signed up now and $110 per month goes to the site. However, now the site needs to pay five people $20 each. This takes the site’s revenue down to $10. On month three, one more person convinces two more people to join. Now the site has 112 people paying $112 per month, but needs to pay out $120. The site is now operating at a loss of $8. You can see that this would become more of a problem as more referrals come in.

In fact, digging in their “Earnings & Income Disclaimer” finds that they say (and yes, it’s in all-caps on the site as well): “ANY EARNINGS OR INCOME STATEMENTS, OR EARNINGS OR INCOME EXAMPLES, ARE ONLY ESTIMATES OF WHAT WE THINK YOU COULD EARN. THERE IS NO ASSURANCE YOU’LL DO AS WELL. IF YOU RELY UPON OUR FIGURES, YOU MUST ACCEPT THE RISK OF NOT DOING AS WELL.” In other words: “We just took a wild guess. Don’t hold us to it.”

So this site wants you to give them your Twitter username/password and promises income then claims that the “income” is actually an estimate that they can’t be held accountable for. To me, this site seems highly scammy and I’d steer well clear of them.