Twitter with Caution

Some of us attention-craving journalists drool at large twitter followings. They go as high 70k, 80k and 200k plus. How popular can one be? That's like one's own personal newspaper circulation.

But think about it for a minute (which equals an hour in twitter time). What's the likelihood that those huge followings having a hacker or felon in their midst? Or worse, a homicidal psycho stalking you in cyberspace? Face it. There's a distinct possibility that someone following you will misbehave. The larger the following, the higher the probability. It's the risk we take in the social media world of embracing strangers.

So it was with great interest I read the story that a worm could spread like wildfire through twitter. In fact, Secure Science demonstrated how it could it could happen by exploiting what they claim is a "web programming error" by twitter.

I've encountered examples of bogus followers already. Three who seem to have disappeared who were following had the exactly same bio, a dead giveaway that something is not right. Their tweet was something about finally getting some "free stuff." One follower who I just removed sent a money scam e-mail, masquerading as a victim of Sudanese genocide. And I've noticed some folks want to screen and approve all their followers which is, perhaps, a wise precaution.

Given the rapidity and pervasiveness of twitter, it's surprising more vulnerabilities have not been found o and exploited. Twitter has acknowledged "clickjacking" incidents where users are tricked into revealed personal information.

Indeed, URL shorteners, and there seems to be at least a dozen now, have a major drawback: the user has no clue what he or she is clicking on.