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There are multiple angles to this story, and each has a compelling narrative.

Social sites are not just games or freebies. They exist based on the premise that they can use human nature against itself in order to create free content from users to be consumed by other users. At the end of this road we have Facebook, where they spend tens of millions of dollars to program users to create and consume like you'd program an alarm clock.

The spammers of course are in it for nobody but themselves, so it's tough to ding them any more than the rest of folks. At least most of them seem honest about it.

There's a third party here too, though: the honest internet citizen who likes creating and sharing content and making money while doing so. They don't run bots and they actually review the stuff they talk about.

The spammers make their money because they can "fake out" the system to think they're the honest money-making folks. The danger here is that we're going to only end up with two giant contenders, the addictive social sites and the spammers. That the little guys get crushed. To me it seems that the web, once wide open, is closing in bit by bit. (That probably sounds hyperbolic. Apologies.)




The problem is that that third party is complicit in allowing this ecosystem to exist. If they would just pony up a dollar or two a month, they could exist in a world without spammers. That's all it would take.


The spammer in the article makes two thousand dollars a day from his army of spambots. Even if he started running two thousand bots on monday, he'd be pulling a profit by tuesday.


Payment would be the unique identifier. Creating a ton of email addresses to uniquely identify each account is easy. It's a lot hard to find multiple unique payment methods so you won't show up as the same person.


You can buy foreign Paypal accounts for $100-200.


If the unique id didn't work out you could charge per post instead. Spammers would post more than other users. Extra accounts or not. Is there any way to make payments like this easy?


Does Paypal not allow multiple accounts tied to the same bank account?


I've received a notice that I couldn't add a credit card because the number was already on my wife's account. Not sure if the same is true for checking accounts, but I'd imagine so.


They don't allow that. My wife tried to add her checking account to a business-related paypal account, but it was already on her personal account so they didn't let her connect it.


What you should do is unconnect it. The very last thing you want to do is to give paypal unfettered access to your checking account.


Why would you tie your paypal account to a bank account?


To get money out. (I don't have mine tied, because I don't receive any money via paypal, and probably never will because of all of the horror stories.)

Anyway, you can easily exchange "bank account" with "credit card" - and it seems that they don't allow that sort of thing, based on the other comments in this thread.


Yes, but they are also quick disable an account with suspicious activity. Some would say too quick.


You really only need the account for about five minutes, in order to register your spambot.


Sounds like I should take up Pinterest spamming.


The spammers make their money because they can "fake out" the system to think they're the honest money-making folks.

None of this is any different than basic capitalism. Now this isn't an anti-capitalism rant, it's just an observation. Rite-Aide and Walmart can buy entire city blocks and run their businesses at a loss for years to fake out and overcome honest citizens' businesses and we celebrate their success.

I suspect if people could invest in spammers there'd be a different public perception of them.


For your Walmart example, wouldn't that violate section 2 of the Sherman Act? In principle, it isn't a strategy the United States government allows.


> None of this is any different than basic capitalism.

Completely agree. I'm not sure I see anything wrong with what the spammer is doing. He may be polluting the Pinterest 'stream' with affiliate links, but it's not like the people on Pinterest aren't on there just to look at random stuff they may never see anyways. Obviously he must be showing people stuff they want if he's making money on it.

It shouldn't even be called spam since every link on Pinterest is technically solicited. Every user on there wants to see new stuff, that's the point of the site. It's nothing like email spam that I didn't ask for, or junk mail that was sent to my house just because they grabbed my info from somewhere.




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