Twitter spammers: Clickbank/Keynetics affiliates

I’ve been experimenting with Twitter a couple of times, and one of the results, the FM Brussel Live playlist twitter bot, seems to be rather popular. I get a couple of subscriptions per day. But recently they’re almost all of the form [name of girl][number of 2 – 4 digits]. This is what they look like:

Twitter followers: suspicious lot

Rather suspicious, right? So I started checking some of them out:
Clickbank spammer ex. 1
Clickbank spammer ex. 3
Clickbank spammer ex. 6

Most of them were similar: very few updates (1-2), a lot of ‘Following’ and hardly any ‘Followers’. And, most importantly, a link to the same website in their profile: ‘the6figureteam.com’. This has all the looks of a spammer at work. The ‘6 figure’ website is a promotion for a DIY kit to convert your car so it runs on water.
Run your car on water
(in the small print you can read it’s actually water AND gas, not just water.)

The owner of the domain cannot be traced (Domains-by-proxy). But the site points to a redirection service, which is run by Clickbank:
Clickbank affiliate program
Now we’re getting somewhere: Clickbank is a company from Boise, Idaho.
Clickbank registration
It also operates as Keynetics or Click Sales Inc. What they do is described in a lawsuit they got for ‘regular’ email spamming:
Keynetics/Clickbank lawsuit

Apparently the company is quite big, they allow low-tech customers get money for referrals, which means a lot of people without scrupules will use it to let other suckers click on their links. Colleagues of theirs: Tradedoubler, CommissionJunction, Affili.net.

Who is to blame for the spam Twitter accounts? Clickbank just runs the technical redirection platform, Centemax (11K hits in Google all of them spam/landing pages) just set up a commision scheme for a ‘Run your car on water’ product, and the affiliates just used that scheme to try to make money. Capitalism at work, right?

SOLUTION: better detection

The best thing Twitter could do is enhance their detection:

  • if a large number of new twitter accounts are created with the same URL in their profile: SPAM
  • if they have almost no own updates, no followers, but they’re following 5000 other accounts: SPAM
  • if the URL they refer to is a page full of ClickBank redirects: SPAM
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7 thoughts on “Twitter spammers: Clickbank/Keynetics affiliates

  1. Nathan

    That would actually be a pretty easy spam detection vector, as all of that information is already in the Twitter database.

    Set it up so that say, once the same address shows up in more than 10 Twitter profiles, the account gets flagged, and no more e-mails get sent out until the account is investigated.

    I applaud the Twitter crew for their work on combating these annoyances. Some day, we WILL have a spam-free internet. I just hope I’m alive to see it.

  2. David M.

    Great detective work. I was curious about the company(s) behind them as well but wasn’t brave enough to actually click on the link for fear of crashing my computer, creating an unstable worm-hole or reviving Andy Dick’s career. Thanks.

  3. shr

    I read with interest your comments on clickbank spam. Last year settled a large suit with ClickBank over affiliate-based marketing via spam, and am interested in whether the pattern has continued.

  4. Clickbank Bonus Domination Review

    I wasn’t sure about the company behind a lot of this SPAM also and as a result was totally reluctant to click on any of the links. Thanks for playing detective on this one. I’m alway’s worried about getting a virus on my computer. Thank you!

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