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Follow a Trail of Twitter Porn Bots and This Is Where They'll Take You

Where did Viola13 want me to go?

by Joseph Cox
Aug 9 2016, 9:00am

Image: Shutterstock

Everyone has probably come across a Twitter porn bot at some point. You go to check your notifications, someone called "Viola13" has liked your tweet, and she wants you to check out her latest sexy pics, or something.

Tired of the alerts from fake accounts, I decided to dig into a few that had recently interacted with my tweets, curious as to where all these bots were coming from. Who were all these attractive women, some with the same profile picture, and why were they so fascinated with my Twitter stream?

What I found was a network of over a dozen interlinked dodgy-looking dating websites, just a click or two away from the porn bot underbelly of Twitter.

Many porn bots—or at least those that have come up in my notifications—share similar descriptions in their profile. A few I looked at had something along the lines of "Do you wanna have awesome feelings?" plastered below their profile picture, followed by a link to another site.

A screenshot of one of the bot's Twitter profiles

"Let's meet!" a pinned tweet from one of the accounts reads. "Have a look at my BIO. Don't forget to follow the link right now!"

One of the accounts, which I found by just searching for profiles sharing the same bio, looked like it was hacked from a legitimate Twitter user, at least judging by what they tweeted before the string of nude photos. (In May, cybersecurity researchers found that porn spambots had taken over at least 2,500 Twitter accounts, including those of prominent figures such as late New York Times journalist David Carr).

I wanted to see where the porn bots would take me. A link on one of the profiles—shortened so you can't tell where it will land before clicking on it—sent me to a site called xhaveanaffair.com, an apparent adult dating site that advertised itself as "Better than Tinder."

A quick questionnaire asked if I was ready to chat to "single moms and cheating wives looking for some fun."

That site then redirected through to hotdates18.se, which, judging by its supposed "Most Active Members" of attractive women, is geared towards heterosexual men.

Through a reverse lookup of the site's IP address, I came across a handful of other "hotdates18" sites registered to other country domains, such as Finland, Australia, Norway, and Denmark. Other affairs-focused sites also popped up, such as "cheating69.fi," which seems to cater to an older audience.

A screenshot of one of the sites

I carried out this cursory search back in July. But strangely, when I checked in again on the same Twitter accounts this morning, they instead linked through to another site, this one called Facebookfreedating.link. That site, registered to a "John Smith" (presumably not his real name), then sent me back to one of those "cheating69" sites I came across earlier, suggesting the Twitter accounts are still owned by the same person.

By Googling the (non-functioning) phone number registered to Facebookfreedating, a slew of even more sites revealed themselves. The number was included in the WHOIS record of Justbe.com, Cldlr.com, Upforitnetworks.com, Soifdetoi.com, Maximafund.com, Krisl.com, flirtyplace.com, dateburg.com, and more. In turn, some of these sites then redirected to cam sites, where users could pay for tokens to spend on the service.

This sprawling network of interconnected websites all came from just one Twitter account. It revealed a huge web constantly trying to to harvest your clicks and attention—perhaps to get you to hand over cash for extras, or pull together some advertising revenue.

Shame. I thought Viola13 just really liked my tweets.