The announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI later this month has taken the world by surprise, but spammers were quick to react to the news by flooding Twitter with random messages and spammy links accompanied with “#Pope”:
The offered bit.ly shortened links are currently leading to webpages apparently hosting adult videos and other pages designed to make money through affiliate links but, as Sophos’ Graham Cluley notes, webpages infected with malware or phishing sites could easily be next.
“What is happening here is what we see every day on Twitter – whether there is a Papal resignation or not,” he warns. “Spammers scoop up the hottest trending topics on Twitter and use the popular phrases to sprinkle amongst their tweets – in the hope that social media users who are following a particular meme or subject will click on their link rather than a legitimate one.”
Users are advised to always be careful when choosing whether to click on links offered via Twitter, and especially if they are posted by accounts sporting images of scantily clad women. These accounts are more often than not bots, and should be reported to Twitter.