Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new details from The Daily Dot.
A 24-year-old man who calls himself “Steve” makes more than $1,000 per day pinning Amazon product links on Pinterest, one of 2012′s hottest social networks.
Taking advantage of the startup’s fast growth and optimal user demographics — consisting mostly of brand-savvy women with an annual household income of more than $100,000 and a love of shopping — spammers are making huge amounts of money just by pinning items to Pinterest and directing consumers to make purchases on Amazon.
On Amazon, he uses various accounts including the name “final-fantas07.” At one time, thousands of his spambots are sharing posts on Pinterest. He showcases products to the Pinterest community, appealing especially to women, who repin posts and buy items linked to Steve’s Amazon accounts.
“Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now,” Steve told The Daily Dot. “Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam. It requires almost no work to get started and no money to invest. You just have to know how the system works and how you can fix it to your advantage.”
He’s made up to $1,900 a day since he started spamming Feb. 20. The above image was Pinned with a link to Steve’s Amazon account, through which fake user “Nancy Nelon” only pins items from Amazon.com. The Pinterest account is also linked to a Twitter feed that bears no activity and a different first name.
“I fully expect next week’s earnings to be $2,000 to $2,500 a day. There are no guarantees in this business and it could all come crashing down soon,” he said. “Not a matter of if, but when will it happen.”
Out of Steve’s collection of fake accounts, he says, Pinterest has only deleted one.
Pinterest acknowledges it is working on minimizing the spam users see. In a statement sent to Mashable, the company said:
As a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the web, including spam. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to quickly address them. Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.
Update: The Daily Dot did a follow-up interview with the spammer in which Steve states: “It was a hoax, period … I thought it would be funny to play this prank seeing how popular Pinterest is and see how fast it could go viral. Honestly, if it hadn’t grabbed this much attention I probably would have kept playing along.”
Although Steve is taking back his claims, The Daily Dot points out that many of his original claims proved true.
The Amazon account “final-fantas07″ — one Steve claimed as his own — was indeed linked to many Pinterest pins.
The publication also found a Black Hat World message board, on which self-proclaimed spammers confirmed Steve’s money-making methods.
Messages like this one, from BHW user meathead1234, support Steve’s original claims: “He could probably have hit some pretty good numbers if he just kept quiet for a while. I have a few sites doing $1000/day right now and I would NOT tell anyone about them or how they earn.”
4 Tips for Avoiding Pinterest Spam:
- Avoid repinning or clicking on pins that use logos of big brands, but aren’t affiliated with any official accounts:
- These links open up to windows that ask you to repin to win unofficial contests, like this:
- If a pin is advertises a free gift card and the source looks fishy, avoid clicking.
- Avoid pins that aren’t sourced and link to suspicious websites. And don’t repin items from Pinterest users with extraordinarily weird user names and Pinterest accounts with no description or picture.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Cayusa