Pinterest may be one of the hottest start-ups of the moment, but early adopters, brands, bloggers and members of the media aren't the only ones paying attention to the service's growth.

Spammers are pinterested in the online pinboard too, and are apparently making a mint because of it.

How big is the problem? That's subject to debate, but by all appearances, it's only getting bigger.

Pinterest is a topic of interest on spammer forums like Black Hat World, and a number of spambots that allow spammers to take advantage of the site's apparently significant shortcomings have hit the market.

And it's no wonder why: one individual who claims to be a 24 year-old Pinterest spammer told the Daily Dot that he generated $2,000 in his first week of Pinterest spamming. Before long, he claims he was averaging $1,000 per day, and expects to earn at least double that by next week.

How does this work? As you might expect, this involves setting up fake Pinterest accounts and using automated and manual processes to pin items with affiliate links. The alleged spammer above, who calls himself Steve, says he previously tried gaming Facebook and Twitter, but that, "Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now."

So easy, in fact, that he suggests it's, "Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam."

Ironically, it was a move Pinterest made earlier this year to appease critics and angry users that may have opened the floodgates to spam. That move: Pinterest's decision to abandon its use of Skimlinks, which had allowed Pinterest to monetise by adding affiliate links to certain product URLs.

With Skimlinks out of the way, spammers were free to flood the social network with their own affiliate links. Face, meet hand.

Needless to say, whether or not Steve's account is true, the headlines about spammers making thousands of dollars per day on Pinterest will leave the young company with no choice but to act. The good news for Pinterest is that it appears it can begin with low hanging fruit like fake user accounts. A look at recent pins involving source URLs show that at least some spammers aren't all that sophisticated.

Catching and deterring the more sophisticated spammers could be more difficult, and Pinterest, like Facebook and Twitter before it, should gear up for a perpetual fight.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 March, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)


Nick Stamoulis

The newest social site on the scene is always attacked by spammers looking to take advantage of it before the site can figure out what's going on. I'm sure Pinterest will fine tune itself and find a way to keep spammers to a minimum. They just got so big so fast that they didn't have time to prepare a spam defense.

over 6 years ago

Oliver Ewbank

Oliver Ewbank, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

It was only a matter of time before Pintrest was attacked by spammers. I think it is a great site and will have the skills to avoid spam in the future.

over 6 years ago


buyer beware

Affiliates were using Pinterest before Skimlinks was removed. The way Skimlinks works is it is only unaffiliated links that it redirects if it can so removing it has no effect on pins by posters using their own affiliate links. It's possible that a large percentage of Pinterest is self promotion, perhaps 80% of content and 20% non-commercial content.

over 6 years ago


buyer beware

Skimlinks only rewrites unaffiliated links so removing it has no effect on affiliates posting affiliate links.

over 6 years ago

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