Thursday, February 16, 2012

Some more thoughts - and information - on that Nicky Paris spam thing...

I've had so many emails and tweets about my recent blogpost (about a particular wave of twitter spam) that I thought it was worth adding a new post. There are two reasons really. Firstly, because I've been sent so much new information that it no longer made sense to add to and edit the initial post and secondly because I want to make sure I'm not misconstrued as being on any kind of personal attack.

Unfortunately, that seems to be how Nicky himself saw it. At least if the two friends who came to his defense are anything to go by. According to them, I'm "a hater" and I'm trying to ruin his dreams. I really don't want to encourage a pitchfork wielding mob. As I said in my initial post - and repeatedly in the comments below it - I wish Nicky well. Genuinely. The only thing I have a problem with is the spam. The rest is none of my business. The spam is my business because it was sent to me. And because spam is everyone's business. Spam makes the internet a less pleasant place to be. Sending spam is like dropping litter. It doesn't have to be dropped in my front garden* to offend me. Litter is everyone's concern. And so is spam.

Unfortunately, it's not really possible to discuss all this without namechecking Nicky. I suppose I could have tried... but it's definitely impossible to discuss it without namechecking the spambots and as all they do is namecheck Nicky that's pretty much the same thing. Each spambot is dedicated to the same task. Churning out the following tweet over and over and over again:

When I wrote the initial post I was aware of close to a dozen spam accounts. But lots of people have been in touch telling me about more and more. With thanks to the many net-detectives amongst you, these, as far as I know, are the accounts that are still active, alongside the number of tweets they've sent so far:

TheFunnyMouse1 (14,925)
TheFunnyShrimp (13,125)
TheFunnyCroc (12,670)
TheFunnyPeanut (12,644)
TheFunnyCheetah (12,102)
TheFunnyHouse (11,697)
TheFunnyCherry (11,547)
TheFunnyCake (11,361)
Princess_Peach7 (11,324)
TheFunnyTooth (11,321)
TheFunnyDragon (10,643)
TheFunnyKitty (10,255)
TheFunnyBaby (9,740)
TheFunnyCupcake (9,494)
TheFunnyCow (8,554)
TheFunnyCamera (5,266)
TheFunnyWitch (4,430)
TheFunnyLips (4,421)
TheFunnyMustach (1,798)
TheFunnyDiamond (1,523)
TheFunnyCoconut (1,270)
TheFunnyFrog1 (1,245)
TheFunnyHeart (1,229)
TheFunnyDuck1 (1,016)

Which makes for a staggering 193,600 tweets from 24 different accounts... all saying:

No matter which way you look at it, that's an astounding little industry he's got going there.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. He was also sending the same tweet from the accounts, TheFunnyWhale (proof) and TheFunnyGenie. But he's recently closed both of those down. It was TheFunnyWhale that first spammed me and he deleted that account after I'd replied intimating I knew what was going on. I assume something similar occurred to inspire the early demise of TheFunnyGenie too.

But there are more. It turns out Nicky's already had several other accounts suspended. It's not hard to verify that he has sent the same spam from accounts called TheFunnyOwl(p), TheFunnyPanda (p), TheFunnyBird1 (p), TheFunnyGranny (p) TheFunnyBear1 (p) and the not quite so TheFunny titled, BritBrit123123 (p), TheJokerWild1 (p) and JoyceJoyJoy1 (p) all of which are now suspended. It's not hard to work out why.

That's 24 active accounts, 2 accounts that he's shut down himself and another 8 that have been closed down by Twitter. 34 accounts in total. And there are bound to be more. These are just the accounts turned out by a few curious souls as fascinated by the situation as I am. I don't think it's fanciful to imagine he's sent that tweet - you know, that tweet - more than 300,000 times. In fact that seems like a highly conservative estimate to me.

But there's the odd thing. With the knowledge that at least 8 accounts have been closed down already, comes the knowledge that Nicky knows he's not supposed to be doing what he's doing. He might see no wrong in it himself... but he knows that it's against Twitter's rules. He must do. They've caught him at least eight times.

And to my mind, that makes it seem like an even more foolish course to steer. Because every time he sets off another batch of spam, he runs the risk of being caught again. And surely he runs the risk of the people at Twitter joining the dots between all of these different accounts and closing down all of them. Including TheNickyParis. In which case, all his efforts will have been for nought.

I really do think it's a shame that Nicky took what I said as a personal attack. I really did mean it when I said I wished him well. It really is only the spam I have a problem with. When it comes to spam, I'll go along with the accusation that I'm "a hater".

Unfortunately I know a few people decided to tweet unpleasantness his way - and one person has been on a mission to email folks and "grass him up" all of which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I think spam is wrong. I think this kind of spam is obnoxious. But he is just 19.

If I was him, I'd delete the spam accounts myself. It's surely only a matter of time before they get closed down anyway.

If you dislike spam you should report it. Don't send him any aggression. Do report each of the active accounts above. (Unless you don't want to. In which case don't.)

It's just I think that spam makes the internet a less pleasant place to be. It's like litter. And it doesn't have to be in your own front garden to be a problem.

* I don't even have a garden.


Wiki:CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003 said...

There is also a legal issue he should be aware of, having looked at his account and knowing he is in the USA, New York to be exact, he is governed by the US laws on Spam which carry fines of around $11,000 for spam, the largest fine to date being closer to $1 million. If twitter ever connected the dots as you said Dave I think being banned from the site would be the least of his worries considering the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 actually permits imprisonment to accompany the fine in any sentence.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a single problem with spam anywhere else except twitter which I might leave because of spam so well said, BRAVO!

It really makes twitter a miserable place to be

Vanessa said...


Checked out that some of those accounts out that you posted, some of them haven't tweeted in months, what do you make of that?

Unknown said...

Well said DG. I concur.

BUT, SHOCK HORROR......Have you heard the horrible things people have been saying about you on twitter!!!! Just click this link to find out (sausage).

Dave Gorman said...

@Vanessa: I make of that... that not all of the accounts are being actively used the whole time. A spam account that's lying fallow while he uses another account to spam with is still, y'know, a spam account.

Dave Gorman said...

Remarkably, within a couple of hours of me posting this, he seems to have deleted all of these accounts.

The only one that remains is Princess_Peach7... which is now protected. But the 23 TheFunny(RandomNoun) accounts are all gone. Well done Nicky!

Rob said...

If Nicky gets an endorsement deal with the company behind my favourite brand of canned spiced ham, all this will be worth it.

Dave Gorman said...

CORRECTION: I said he'd deleted all of them except Princess_Peach7... well it seems TheFunnyMustach is still live also. Just so you know.

Andrew said...

Spam is like any other advert as far as the consumer is concerned: if there's too much of it, or it's too obnoxious, we'll leave. The offensive thing about spamming something like Twitter is it implies you're happy to destroy that service and the communities that use it if you think it might serve you to do so.

But I like your measured approach. It works much better than personal attacks. I got some spam a while ago from a DVD rental store near(ish) me. I could have reported them and rallied my friends to do the same, and I expect they'd have changed their username and done the same thing again. Instead, I rang them up and they stopped.