Scam Bot Epidemic with Twitter Peaks Interest of Elon Musk, Urges Changes to Twitter Protocols
The cryptocurrency world is always prone to scams, but the latest bots on Twitter have taken the theft to new heights. The scam bitcoin and ether giveaway bots are not sticking to unknown or non-celebrities anymore. Instead, they have begun to target high-profile figures, including President Donald Trump and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The scam bots have been working for a year to collect from other cryptocurrency accounts, primarily replicating other Twitter figures by using their profile pictures. Once the profile is established, the bot comments on other accounts with fake bitcoin, or they offer ether giveaways to trick consumers into becoming investors, though the investment goes to the bot.
Many experienced investors are starting to shy away from involving Twitter in their crypto concerns, which is largely due to the activity of these bots. They’ve even attracted the attention of Elon Musk, who said
I want to know who is running the Etherium scambots! Mad skillz …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
The co-creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, wants to eradicate this problem. He even urged Jack Dorsey, who is the founder and CEO Twitter, to create a solution that protects accounts from these scams. In a Twitter post, Buterin said:
I do wish @elonmusk's first tweet about ethereum was about the tech rather than the twitter scambots……..@jack help us please? Or someone from the ETH community make a layer 2 scam filtering solution, please? https://t.co/biVRshZmne
— Vitalik "Not giving away ETH" Buterin (@VitalikButerin) July 9, 2018
The interesting technology behind the scam on these accounts is actually quite impressive. Within the comments, they create threads of different responses, which makes it impossible for other accounts to post comments to be read. Basically, it is impossible for consumers to communicate, further hiding the scam.
Some experts in the crypto world are unsympathetic to these issues. They say that the users that fall for the Twitter scams deserve to lose out, since they have not done the research that could have prevented it. The most likely users to fall victim to these scams are new investors and casual investors. However, the crypto world presently does not have a protocol to reverse payments sent to these scammers.
Emin Gun Sirer, who is a professor at Cornell, commented in March 2017 about how out of hand these scams have gotten, putting the blame on Twitter and Dorsey. Sirer said,
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) March 6, 2018
Dorsey only replied that they are working on the issue at the time.
We are on it.
— jack (@jack) March 6, 2018
Hey @jack. I see that Twitter is completely unable to stem the crypto spam. Spammers block me, and respond to me, and you show their tweets to my people, while I'm unable to report them as impersonators.
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) June 28, 2018
For months later, nothing really has changed for the better. Scam crypto giveaways have continued to make progress for themselves. Basically, any popular account has had a replica made of it by now, impacting the crypto and technology sectors.
One proposed solution is to ban any account that matches their profile picture with a verified account. However, this solution does not require major technological advancements; the only effort that would need to be made is to develop a software that matches current images. Once detected, the protocol could automatically suspend the account for further evaluation. However, the crypto world will essentially have to wait and see how the Twitter founder protects users, if he decides to make any changes at all.