Monday, April 18, 2011

Using Bitly’s “+” Links to Peek at Spam

Thanks to the wonderful technology of spam filters, I rarely see spam anymore. Today, however, this gem came through:

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It made it through the corporate filters but to Outlook’s credit it *was* flagged as probable spam.

Obviously I didn’t click the link. A bitly link. Hmmm. I use bitly for my twittering and happen to know that if you add a “+” to the end of any bitly or jmp link, you get an awesome stats page like this:

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This usefully tells you where the link takes you (the “long link”)—a dating site—so you don’t have to go there to know. It also tells me how many people have actually hit the link and a bit about them. Here are some interesting stats:

  • 190 clicks as of this writing
  • Most hits come for North America
  • Transmitted exclusively (or nearly so) through email

What have I learned? Even though I have no idea how many spam emails it took to get 190 hits, or what (if anything) those 190 clicks earned the sender, I’m disappointed to find at least that many people were curious enough, gullible enough, or foolish enough, to click the link. If the spam problem hadn’t been pretty much solved years ago, I’d be angry at you 190 people for supporting the industry.

Check it out for yourself, or try adding “+” to any jmp/bitly link you come across for some occasionally interesting data (like this one).