As seen in the screenshot at right, over the past 5 hours my Pinterest account has been experiencing an incredible surge in followers. At first, I thought to myself, “Perhaps all that work I put into my Automobile pinboard has earned me a position as a recommended user of some kind.” A bit of investigating would prove that hopeful hunch completely inaccurate.
I started by visiting my last 20 followers’ profiles, being careful to look for similarities in their profile about sections. Noticing a pattern didn’t take long. Every account was linked to a Twitter account boasting 0 tweets, none of them were linked to Facebook accounts, and all of them were women from small American towns. Clever, but not clever enough to fool everyone. How is anyone going to overlook over 500 new followers?
Like StumbleUpon and several other sites that come to mind, these sock-puppet accounts are a serious issue, flooding users with notification emails, making it near impossible for legitimate users who also become followers in the same time span as the onslaught to be picked out from the riffraff. For example, President Obama could have followed me and I’d never know without scrolling through 500 accounts, an experience most other users can attest to being imperfect to begin with.
All jokes aside, this latest burst of followers is no doubt being performed by some kind of bot and its devious goal is at this time unknown. Given that I can’t find out how to report such activity to Pinterest staff–it seems you can only report individual pins as spam–and that their Twitter account is mostly inactive and doesn’t tend to communicate with other users, I’ll likely wake up in the morning with 3,000 followers. 3,000 followers who could give a damn about what I’m pinning.