502-442-7914 howdy@nowsourcing.com

TweetJacking: Are You at Risk?

Submitted for your approval: a certain Mr. @TweetSpammer (not his real name) comes along and retweets your perfectly valid tweet, but puts in a different link of his own – covering it up with url shortening.

Welcome to – the TweetJack zone!

Seriously folks…imagine if you will taking a retweet fest hostage. What if that link was then retweeted by the likes of Guy Kawasaki (81k followers) one of the best established Twitter linchpins and broadcasters?

Or picture hijacking a tweet from CNN Breaking News (441k followers) – it will still be the same message, but an entirely different landing page.

The mechanics of tweetjacking are dead simple, anyone can do it: select a message to retweet, switch the original link for the one you want to hijack visitors to – then submit.

“Seeing it as a retweet, you’re piggybacking on the original poster’s authority. Not only will people click those links, they’ll also retweet your stuff again and again without ever checking them – this makes it get viral within seconds.”

@TweetSpammer is not a “bad boy,” he’s just interested in using a borrowed ladder to success.

ReTweet Apathy

Want another scary bedtime story? How about the number of people just totally desensitized by retweets, just desperate to retweet anything. This reporter has seen out there a Twitter user that simply asked his following to retweet with no further explanation. The result? Plenty of retweets.

Remember folks…you are what you… tweet.

Many thanks to Ralph Tegtmeier aka Fantomaster for the discussion that lead to the joint writing of this post.ย  He’s got a killer blog and Twitter, though chances are you knew that already ๐Ÿ˜‰

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. Sheryl Loch

    I would really hope that people would at least look at the link before they retweet it. I would not want to be responsible for sending out something that I did not feel was worthy or fitting.

    I do know there are plenty of people that would have to piggy back on someone elses’ name to get anything they do looked at.

    Sheryl Lochs last blog post..Biological Terrorist Pass Avian Flu

  2. KarenKramer

    One of the things that I like best about Social Media is the concept of “personal control and personal responsibility”. We have the power to determine who and what we want to add to our daily stream of information.

    With twitter, it’s as simple as clicking the unfollow button and the spammer goes away.

    And like Sheryl Loch mentioned above, we also have the responsibility to our own followers to only recommend/retweet items that have true value.

    KarenKramers last blog post..Skribit Skribit

  3. Susanimate

    I thought this was going to be about the Twitter accounts being hacked, but it’s about the links.
    I don’t think there’s much anyone can do about that except hope that the guilty will be seen through by their followers and end up unfollowed and alone in the Twitterverse. It would be a just punishment.

    Susanimates last blog post..McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish Ad In Full

  4. Paul

    Brian, diamond post, never have I ever given this a second thought, makes you really question the power of the RT. I do blind RT myself but mostly down to trust that the person passing the link down the chain is not up to anything dodgy.


    Pauls last blog post..Think Visibility : An Overview

  5. Steve

    That puts a different perspective on things.

  6. sherisaid

    erm…why would anyone of consequence do that? Look…if someone with 81K followers wants to send a link out, he doesn’t need your RT to do it, he already has more influence than you. And if someone with 100 followers (which would make more sense) does it, then very few people will see it anyway. Theoretically 100 might and it could (theoretically) grow exponentially from there, but only a percentage of followers is on at any given time, and only a few of those will click the link, and only a few of those few will RT. *cancels high alarm and returns interest to oatmeal* mmmmm, oatmeal…

  7. Brian Wallace

    @Rachel Levy: thanks, and mind you this is an informational post..not asking any of you to be sneaky, k? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Brian Wallace

    @Brett Borders: agreed that nobody *owns* a link, however, the point here is that some people are out to do a little slight of hand and just raising awareness.

  9. Brian Wallace

    @Sheryl Loch: It’s my hope too that people look at the link before they retweet it…I am certain though that is not always the case. Sometimes people want to just get a few tweets in, just to stay active. Tools like Tweetdeck make it oh so easy to RT that there is definitely potential for Tweetjacking.

  10. Brian Wallace

    @KarenKramer: good points. Let me also add that TweetJacking in its purest form isn’t malicious: it’s just changing the link. So let’s say someone had a link that worked but was not visible within the 140 characters, and you converted it to TinyURL. Nothing wrong with that, right? The whole TweetJack Zone thing was in part for dramatic effect, and awareness as well.

  11. Brian Wallace

    @Susanimate: eye for an eye, tweet for a tweet, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Brian Wallace

    @Paul: and I’m not really suggesting that people will be doing anything dodgy (dodgy by the way I think is my favorite UK/Aust/NZ word, btw), just throwing out a hypothetical and having some fun with it. Thanks for stopping in and glad you enjoyed the post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Brian Wallace

    @sherisaid: enjoy your oatmeal. Hey look, it’s an elephant outside your window! (switches oatmeal bowl with bowl of Frosted Flakes) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Susanimate

    No, not an eye for an eye type of thing, that’s just revenge. If somebody hijacks your tweet and you feel offended, well, you have the unfollow button. If you go ‘an eye for an eye’ route then you just may be hijacking somebody elese’s hijacked tweet and the vicious cycle continues. Be the bigger person and just ignore the hijacker. We are not little kids here…. Ok, some of us are. My point is, oh never mind I don’t feel strongly enough about this to keep spouting off. Hijack my car or something and then I’ll feel like a fight. LOL

  15. sherisaid

    OMG. I totally fell for that and now I’m stuck with frosted flakes…*sigh*

  16. swhitley (Shannon Whitley)

    Twitter Comment

    Real Twitter Tip: (I’ve done it too, but..) Don’t retweet unless you’ve checked the link. [link to post] – (Now Sourcing)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  17. contentcrusader (Deb Carbone)

    Twitter Comment

    Be aware of tweetjacking [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  18. thetrialwarrior (Antonin I. Pribetic)

    Twitter Comment

    RT @idealawg: @thetrialwarrior re: “Tweetjacking=Unfollow” For those who don’t know [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  19. thetrialwarrior (Antonin I. Pribetic)

    Twitter Comment

    RT @BlueCubeCelcom: @thetrialwarrior how to know a tweetjacking ? ยป Plagiarised tweet w/o attribution: [link to post] (HT @idealawg)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher


  1. theGypsy (theGypsy) - Twitter Comment Consider this - TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? (via @nowsourcing ) [link to post] - Posted using Chat…
  2. mwilton13 (Mike Wilton) - Twitter Comment RT: @theGypsy: Consider this - TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? (via @nowsourcing ) [link to post] - Posted…
  3. bostonmarketer (Rachel Levy) - Twitter Comment Tweetjacking... a new way to spam :-( [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  4. ManiKarthik (Mani Karthik) - Twitter Comment RT@nowsourcing TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  5. scottsharpe (Scott Sharpe) - Twitter Comment RT @Ed_Dale: TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  6. Ed_Dale (Ed Dale) - Twitter Comment TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  7. debbiegirl (debbiegirl) - Twitter Comment @Ed_Dale RT:"TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? [link to post] " Ed, is there such a thing as TweetJilling…
  8. mikakiviranta (Mika Kiviranta) - Twitter Comment TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  9. alifity (Alif Rachmawadi) - Twitter Comment RT @mikakiviranta: TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - [link to post] - Posted using Chat Catcher
  10. LA8PV (Mats Pettersson) - Twitter Comment RT @Bubbila TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - [link to post] #svpt - Posted using Chat Catcher
  11. bubbila (Steve) - FriendFeed Comment TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - [link to post] https://friendfeed.com/e/98ace3ca-4337-43f3-a92f-bfa4dcea7f13 - Posted using Chat Catcher
  12. NowSourcing: What are You Doing? | NowSourcing - [...] TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? [...]
  13. Mani’s Twitter updates for 2009-03-15 | Manikarthik.com - [...] TweetJacking: Are You at Risk? - https://nowsourcing.com/2009/03/10/tweetjacking/ [...]
  14. Link Shortener Hacked, Leads to Porn Sites | NowSourcing - [...] users, and associated services are being attacked by these pranksters, spammers, and hackers.ย We posted about Tweetjacking before, but that…
  15. Beware of Twitter Spam: An Overview and Guide - Widget and Facebook App Development and Design - Metablocks - [...] up in your timeline (and may cause you to read it). This has quickly evolved into the practice of…