In late January of this year, Twitter released Vine, a social video-sharing service that it acquired in late 2012. Initially launched on iOS, Vine has similar characteristics to Twitter as videos are intentionally short (users are only allowed six seconds) and to the point. Earlier this month, an Android version of Vine was released and it was reported that the service had amassed over 13 million users on iOS alone.
With its increasing popularity, it comes as no surprise that spammers are targeting Vine and its users. Last year, we reported on the rise of Instaspam as a result of the mobile photo sharing application’s soaring popularity.
Figure 1. Vine spammer likes and comments on video
The tactics being employed in Vine spam range from leaving comments on videos (Figure 1), following users (Figure 2), and tagging videos with hashtags (Figure 3).
Figure 2. Vine spam account follows user
Figure 3. Spam account posts Vine Video
As of right now, the majority of Vine spam pertains to follower scams, offering users a way to increase the number of followers they have on the service.
Figure 4. Vine spam information request
In the initial phases, spammers requested that users provide their Vine email address. They have since changed their labels (Figure 4) and now ask for Vine user names instead.
Figure 5. Spam campaign application install request
Once a user submits their Vine user name, they are redirected to a landing page claiming that the 100 free followers is contingent on them installing a certain application. Clicking on any of the links on this page will redirect users to a legitimate application on their respective application store.
Scammers are earning their money through affiliate programs that offer money for each successful installation of an application.
The following is a list of domains observed in Vine spam comments and posts:
Reporting and deleting spam
Users can do their part to help combat spam on Vine by reporting spam profiles and deleting spam comments from their videos.
Figure 6. Ellipsis button on user profile
Each Vine profile contains an ellipsis button (Figure 6). Clicking on this button reveals options to block, report or share the profile (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Reporting a spam profile on Vine
When prompted, select the “Report this person” button to report the profile to Vine (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Profile reported confirmation
To report spam comments on your own videos, click the comment button (Figure 9).
Figure 9. Video comment button
Once you are on the comments page, swipe to the left on the spam comment that you wish to delete. You will be presented with a red button with an “X” on it (Figure 10). Click on the button to delete the comment.
Figure 10. Delete spam comment
At this time, there is no option to delete a comment and report a user, so you will need to report the user first before deleting their comment.
While we are currently only seeing “free follower” spam, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing offers for free stuff. And, as I have written before, free stuff on social networks is not free.