Aug 30 2010

Virus experts play “king of the hill” on Twitter

"Once Is Not Enough" (1975): starring Kirk Douglas, David Janssen, and Graham Cluley
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Back in 2009 I warned computer security experts lack focus on Twitter. Time for an update.

Last night, Graham Cluley (Sophos) filed a tweet regarding yet another Facebook scam. This morning he re-tweeted it — and not by accident. You see, Twitter doesn’t give you an option to “RT” your own tweets. Cluley pulled the trigger twice because he didn’t want his message to get lost in the din of tweets other people sent out during his subscribers’ overnight slumber.

In other words, Cluley wanted his tweet to be “king of the hill” when you logged into Twitter this morning.

Some day, security experts will need to “get the word out” pronto. But there might just be too many self-RTs for us to get the info we need…

What, pray tell, would merit a “self-RT”? Well, uh, Cluley wants you to read his latest blog entry. He offers an RSS feed for his blog entries, but it’s not good enough — every one of his blog entries needs a tweet. And a Digg. And a Facebook status update. And now this blog entry needs two tweets.

To his credit, Cluley put “RT from last night:” at the front of his re-tweet. At least we know it’s a duplicate. Contrast him with @PCVirusNews, whose tweets ironically look like they come from a spam botnet. Indeed, as I write this, their penultimate tweet is a four-peat posted on August 23,26,27,29. Heck, it’s a five-peat if you count the very latest tweet, which just highlights another site’s reprint of the same column highlighted in those four earlier tweets.

“Ha ha! I’m king of the hill on Twitter! My third self-RT is at the top of every subscriber’s page! Wait, what’s this? Graham Cluley just did a self-RT. Well, I’ll show him! Take that, Mr. Cluless! My fourth self-RT is at the top of every subscriber’s page! Ha ha!”

At the risk of repeating myself from a previous column— ha! “Repeat myself,” get it? Seriously, though, any number of computer security experts have slapped me over the years for repeating myself from one column to the next. For sounding like a broken record. For being repetitious with previously written content. For saying the same thing over and over and over again, from one column to the next. For repeating myself each time I post. For sounding like a scratched CD. For expounding on the same points in previously written content…

Look, when you bang out columns as long as I have, you begin to realize “everything old is new again.” You find yourself launching every new column with phrases like “Back in 2009 I warned…”

But when you repeat a tweet a few hours later because someone might have slept through your original announcement? Puh-lease.

Here’s the brewing problem, folks. Some day, a virus or worm or whatever will strike the globe with amazing speed & agility. The experts will need to “get the word out” pronto. But there might just be too many self-RTs for us to get the information we truly need.

What’s the latest news on the global cybertastrophe?
I don’t know. All the experts on Twitter keep repeating their tweets because they want to be the top news item…

Memo to @PCVirusNews: in the movie Once Is Not Enough, Linda says ” ‘You have ten fingers like a mouth and a mouth like ten fingers!’ Now, you couldn’t ask for a better reference than that, could you?” Tweet that ten times to your Twitter subscribers.

TWEET.EXE “@PCVirusNews Reminder: please read″
ping /n 86400
goto :repeatdaily

  • By Rob RosenbergerNo Gravatar, 30 August 2010 @ 10:18 pm

    Graham Cluley gets the humor in my columns. He replied via Twitter: “Glad to have provided some inspiration! cheers!” He probably knows I played leapfrog with him to reach my real target: @PCVirusNews.

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