A fun, seemingly innocuous Twitter application created by a scottish teenager became a good example of how easy is to trick even technologically savvy users into participating in a spam operation.
The application – named Twifficiency – ostensibly calculates a user’s Twitter efficiency score using an algorithm that takes into account the number of people who follow the user, of people who the user follows, tweet frequency, and other variables.
According to Softpedia, the resulting score doesn’t actually tell you anything significant about your Twitter habit, but seemed to be enough of an incentive to make people curious and willing to try it. But then, their Twitter account started sending out messages: “My Twifficiency score is #%. What’s yours? http://twifficiency.com/”, and they weren’t amused anymore.
It turns out that to use the application, one must agree to let it tweet the score from one’s own account. And this condition wasn’t hidden – it is stated clearly (in red!) on the application page: “Twifficiency will tweet your score on your behalf. Do not use this app if you do not consent to this.”
When it comes to Twifficiency, high-profile “victims” are Marissa Mayer, a Google Vice President, and Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer. And if they fell for the trick, what chance do regular users have?