Does Disney know they’re being hijacked by Twitter spam?

Disney’s brand police are notoriously tough and vigilant. When they find a business using their name or images improperly, they take swift action. So I’m wondering how long it will take Disney to discover that some new arrivals to Twitter are pointing people to their web site under fault pretenses. In other cases, the same business (it appears) is inducing people to click on Disney-related Tweets, only to arrive at what appears to be a Google Adwords micro-site, or a site for an Orlando vacation package retailer.

It all started four days ago when, in quick succession, I discovered several new followers to my Twitter feed. I’m still not sure why I was chosen, since the newer of these entries are following only a handful of others. Unlike most new followers to my Twitter posts, these folks seemed to have no connection to my professional or personal interests. (Full disclosure: I’ve only visited a Disney property once, and that was this summer. The high point was learning to dance The Macarena. Fuller disclosure: I still do The Macarena quite badly.)

Suspicious New Twitter Followers

One of my new followers that day, Disney14, has — as the web site linked to its profile — this official Disney site: http://disney.videos.go.com. The URL contains a source code (CMJT), and a source ID number, both suggesting that the business behind Disney14 is part of an affiliate program Disney uses to get traffic to its video store. But traffic from this source arrives without knowledge that they’re clicking on a link to a Disney video merchant.

It appears from the text of these Tweets that the business behind them wants to show up on search results for the keywords used. Here are the most recent examples from yesterday (below this graphic is a text version, with the hypertext links preserved):

Click to visit Disney14 on Twitter

Here are the live links. Don’t worry, clicking on them won’t add to any SEO mojo. All of the links below, as in Twitter, have rel=”no follow” attributes that tell search engine spiders to ignore the links:

Within minutes of acquiring Disney14 as a follower, I also found destdisney on my list. This profile is associated with no web site, but every post lists the same Google Adwords micro-site trap, which itself uses the Disney brand in its domain name. Here are posts from yesterday:

Click to visit the destdisney Twitter profile

A third Twitter profile, sjohn1019, points every post (latest: “Safelite AutoGlass Contribution Grants Local Child’s Wish – MarketWatch“) to an Orlando vacation site. The site linked off of this Twitter profile is http://www.automaticwealthmaker.com, a “make money with Google Adwords” lead generation site. Which, incidentally, seems to have been cyber-vadalized by a hacker who changed “wealth-maker” to “wealth-taker.” Ah, the messy world of sleezy internet hucksters!

What do you make of all this? And how long will it take Disney to issue a cease and desist order against whomever is behind this Twitter spamming? Watch with me, won’t you?

4 thoughts on “Does Disney know they’re being hijacked by Twitter spam?”

  1. I didn’t know anything about @Disney14 (and didn’t follow their link, which is, I guess, something like tinyurl).

    I’ve been trying to track spammers who follow me. I wrote a program that would insert a (friends,followers) note in the announcement email when someone follows me. This to catch the spammers who are following 4577 but only have 34 followers.

    My next idea is to query a sampling (or all) of someone’s friends and see if there are any commonalities in the bio fields.

  2. I’d appreciate any analysis you can provide of how I got targeted. A Twitter friend, @augieray recently Tweeted about his Orlando vacation, but other than that, I’m at a loss of how I was targeted … unless it was random.

    Thanks for your comment and your insights, Michael!

  3. It’s possible they just accessed the public timeline. But I went back through our posts back to Sunday, and found no tweets that could have been in the timeline at the same time.

    I had another follower last night, but, looking through the bios of their other friends, found common words in all of ours (“Conservative Christian”), so obviously they searched for “Conservative Christian” and followed who they found (I’ve done that, too). That’s what gave me the idea of finding common words in bios.

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