See update below
Last week, the Daily Dot taught you how to spot a Pinterest spammer. Now that same spammer has spotted us.
After he read our article about his process of spamming Pinterest through thousands of bot accounts, Steve, who declined to give his last name, contacted us with an offer to clarify some of his methods. He proved his identity by providing a screenshot of his Amazon Affiliate account—the same final-fantas07 that we discussed in the aforementioned article.
We were shocked by some of the facts Steve shared. For instance, he makes $1000 a day, and out of his thousands of spambots, Pinterest has only deleted one.
As such, the Daily Dot decided to publish the entire interview. It's a fascinating look at Pinterest's Wild West and the spambots that inhabit it.
Could you tell us your name, age and occupation?
Pinterest Spammer: My name is Steve and I'm 24 years old. Currently I have no 'real' 9-5 job. My only source of income is from the earnings I make online. I have three associate degrees, all in aviation. I did two years of Avionics, one year of powerplant and one year of airframe. I have an FCC license and soon when I'm not so lazy I will go and test for my A&P (airframe & powerplant) license. I live in one of the lower 48 states.
How do you describe what it is you do? We’ll refer to it as spamming for now. Have you spammed other social networks before?
It’s spam; no other way of putting it. I’ve been through Facebook and Twitter. I'm sure if you ever heard of one of those spammy looking Facebook apps, I was one of the ones doing that.
Have you found it easier to spam Pinterest than other networks?
Pinterest is by FAR the easiest social network to spam right now. Quite possibly the easiest ever to spam. It requires almost no work to get started and no money to invest. You just have to know how the system works and how you can fix it to your advantage.
DD: When did you first discover you could make money off of Pinterest?
I started on Feb. 20, 2012. Pinterest used to use a script called Skimlinks. What this did was when anything was pinned that had any type of affiliate link involved, Skimlinks would replace your affiliate tag with theirs. This caused a lot of bad press and outrage and they did away with it. That's when I saw the opportunity for easy money.
How much money do you make off Pinterest?
Well, when I started I did a test run to see what kind of traffic I could get. I manually posted pins for 4 hours straight and let them sit for a day. Next day I made something like $20 I think. So I decided to automate it cause I could see the huge potential this had.
As the days came my earnings increased and increased and increased. First week of doing this I made around $2,000 which was Feb. 20-29. I stepped my game up and changed the way I was doing some things, and I saw a dramatic increase in my earnings. Went up to $500-800 a day. Kept at it and for the past two weeks I have made over $1,000 a day with the highest earnings being around $1,900.
I fully expect next week's earnings to be $2,000-2,500 a day. There are no guarantees in this business and it could all come crashing down soon. Not a matter of if, but when will it happen.
The Daily Dot recently published a story about a Pinterest spamming program available for sale at Black Hat World. Is your process similar to this one?
I guess you could say it’s like that. I don't use his bot, and I didn't create my own. His bot is very powerful for single accounts, but I use a lot more than one account so his bot would do me no good. Although he is adding a feature soon that will use multiple accounts, so I might have to look into it then. Just because I'm using almost 10 GB of bandwidth a day doing what I'm doing at the moment.
In our earlier story about you, we found tons of bots that traced to your Amazon affiliate account. How many would you estimate you have out there?
I'm using a ton of accounts and have a stockpile of accounts waiting to be put to use once the ones I'm using right are deleted.
We called out your affiliate account in particular because it was the only one we could find. Are there a lot of other people on Pinterest doing what you're doing? How many would you guess?
There are two other tags I use that I did create and they are making their way around Pinterest as we speak. There are others doing what I'm doing, but not near the same scale as me. I'm basically three weeks ahead of everyone else but with all these new bots [like the Black Hat World model] coming into the picture, more and more people will figure out how to do what I'm doing. I have more twists up my sleeve and I will start working on them soon, so you will see new types of spam in the future.
What do you do when your bots get shut down? What would you do if they all got shut down, and could that ever happen?
Back when I started on Feb. 20, you could pin as many pictures as you wanted to with the same account and all the pins would show up on the boards. Well they changed that around the 23rd I think, and they banned one account. That was my first and only ban so far, maybe more when this interview is publicly posted. Oh how sad I would be. But like I said before, I do have a stockpile of accounts and I can easily create more if needed.
Trust me when I say Pinterest is NOT invite only. That’s a marketing ploy to get people interested, and women will fall for it instantly. No disrespect intended to anyone.
Do you feel any guilt about what you're doing? What would you like to say to Pinterest users who like, friend, and click on your bots—if anything?
Nope, I have no guilt. I'm not trying to scam anyone, or upload viruses to their computer or anything like that. I simply show products to the Pinterest community. I realize that I'm spamming the crap out of the site, but its nothing personal, just business.
Anyone who liked/repined anything I posted, I thank each and every one of you. Sometimes I see users posting all kinds of valuable information on my pins, and some even review the product themselves. So really I could say I'm helping some people by showing them a product they might else have never heard of. But in the end I am profiting off it, but which site doesn't these days? Not trying to justify what I do, but it is the truth, at least from what I have seen.
UPDATE: The day after this was published, Steve told the Daily Dot that he really wasn't a spammer. We're not sure where he lied—in telling us he was a spammer or telling us he'd lied about being a spammer.
Illustration created with original image by Ed Yourdon