The Curious Case of Automated Instagram Influencer Sponsorship Emails

The Curious Case of Automated Instagram Influencer Sponsorship Emails

If an email sounds too good to be true, we’ve learned to dismiss it as phishing or otherwise fraudulent, even if it managed to evade the email client’s junk filters. However, I’ve seen a rise of new type of automated emails that deserve a closer look, as they behave quite differently from your average spam. These emails are from seemingly legitimate businesses, targeting specific email addresses associated with Instagram Creator accounts, and offering some type of an influencer marketing deal.

Global influencer marketing spend is growing rapidly, and Instagram grabbed a lion share – 8 billion dollars – of it during 2020. So, it’s not out of the question for even smaller Creator accounts to get approached by (smaller) brands, but there’s definitely something fishy about the following emails. Let’s look at some examples.

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Cyber Security in Gaming – Extensive Show Notes for KOVA Podcast X F-Secure

Cyber Security in Gaming – Extensive Show Notes for KOVA Podcast X F-Secure

Recently I was invited to KOVA Esports podcast to talk about cyber security, online privacy and identity management from the perspective of gamers and gaming industry in general. Hosted by KOVA’s General Manager Timo Tarvainen and joined by their streamer Teemu “Spamned” Rissanen, we had a great one-hour long discussion. This post covers my own notes about the things we mentioned, source links included, and further expands on some of the topics. Links to the podcast episode can be found on the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

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On Twitter Bots, Censorship and Social Media Manipulation

On Twitter Bots, Censorship and Social Media Manipulation

During the past couple of months, there’s been an uptick in discussion regarding social media weaponization, censorship, bots and other manipulation. I’ve been following and participating in this public dialogue with keen interest, especially from the privacy and free speech perspectives. Whereas 2018 was the year of Facebook fiascos, it looks like in 2019 the spotlight has turned on Twitter.

So here’s a blog post about Twitter, made with embedded tweets. Let’s go full meta.

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Why Quitting the Big Five is Bad Privacy Advice

Why Quitting the Big Five is Bad Privacy Advice

The big five – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google & Microsoft – have got a stranglehold of our digital life. Not just our digital identities, but almost all of our web experiences are reliant or connected to the technologies of these five companies.

Recently, Daniel Oberhaus from Motherboard and then Kashmir Hill from Gizmodo both experimented by completely “quitting” the Big Five, for four and six weeks respectively. Both of their stories are very insightful and definitely recommended reading for anyone. However, quitting the Big Five is exactly the kind of take on privacy that turns many people off from becoming more privacy aware.

I’ve seen this happen time and time again in r/privacy, where people who have just tipped their toes in the world on online privacy and security are getting barraged with comments like “LOL IF YOU’RE NOT USING LINUX YOU’RE SCREWED” and “YOU NEED TO DELETE ALL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS”. But if we as a privacy community would dial back our tone just a bit, I think we could do way more good than what we’re doing right now.

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The Science of Apple Inc., or How to Create a Cult in Five Easy Steps

The Science of Apple Inc., or How to Create a Cult in Five Easy Steps

Recently I finished reading an interesting book called “The 48 Laws of Power” by author Robert Greene. Among the “laws” introduced in the book,  there’s one called Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following (Law 27), and oh boy did I have a good chuckle reading it. The resemblance between the description of how cults are created and everyone’s favorite premium tech firm, Apple Inc., was so uncanny that I just had to share it. Plus we’ve all seen enough of Cult of Apple references around the Internet to know that maybe there’s something more to this.

So here’s the five easy steps of creating a cult (of Apple), with hefty citations from the aforementioned book.

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An Analysis of Finnish Police Parody Accounts on Twitter

An Analysis of Finnish Police Parody Accounts on Twitter

The Police of Finland has been noticeably increasing its presence on social media, especially on Twitter where there’s more than 60 official accounts already. Most of these accounts represent individual police officers, and therefore they’re supposed to represent the official police’s brand and communication, but of course there’s bound to be some personal nuances included in the tweets as well. This personal tone is perfectly normal and only human, but unfortunately it makes them (individuals and the police) a target for a backslash.

And oh boy, they’ve been targeted alright. As of this writing, there’s at least eight parody accounts made of Finnish Police, and most of them have been activated within the last two months. Although parody accounts are accepted in Twitter’s policy and often intended just as harmless fun, I wanted to take a closer look at these eight and see if I could find any interesting details on them.

There were definitely some similarities and other easily connectable dots between the eight that were apparent even after just a quick glance (e.g. multiple mentions of “vihapuhe” = “hate speech”). I realize that by doing this I’m just feeding the trolls, so to speak, but let’s just call this professional curiosity that prompted me to investigate further.

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Make Twitter Non-Personalized Again

Make Twitter Non-Personalized Again

Many of you have probably heard about Twitter’s new privacy policy which was sold to you the same way these things always are: “to bring you a more personalized experience”. Obviously, this meant that more of your data is getting analyzed and sold to the highest bidder. I immediately encouraged my followers to opt-out of it, and since then also the great folks at EFF have written a guide on how to do so.

But what many Twitter users don’t know is that there are other ways that Twitter is already (and by default) doing to “enhance” your timeline. This is how you can opt-out from the rest of those settings:

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How to Create a New YouTube Channel for Your Business [+ Proven Checklist]

How to Create a New YouTube Channel for Your Business [+ Proven Checklist]

Internet is full of guides on how to create a YouTube channel, but none of them helped me when our company had reached the point where we realized that one YouTube channel simply wasn’t enough. Whether you’re in the process of creating the first channel for your business, or maybe in similar situation that we were, it doesn’t matter, as this checklist will be suitable for you nevertheless.

(This guide was updated in December 2020 to reflect the changes in YouTube Studio. All links should be fixed now.)

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Twitter Influencers: How I got +850 % Impressions & What I Learned

Twitter Influencers: How I got +850 % Impressions & What I Learned

Social media marketers are silly. At the same they keep preaching (and bragging) loudly how fast things and trends change in social media landscape, but on the other hand, they’ve been declaring that “this is The Year of the Influencer” at least four years in a row now. However, very often even professionals seem to forget (or outright not know) that not all influencers have to be persons.

Especially on channels like Twitter and Instagram, accounts that are e.g. parodies (like in my case) or content curators, can have massive follower bases. These are my findings from a tweet that gained +850% more impressions and prompted almost +1000% more profile visits than my average 140-characters do.

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