Trading of stolen social media accounts has become quite rampant. In July 2020, Twitter accounts of over 130 high profile users and companies including Elon Musk, Barrack Obama and Apple were compromised.
Instagram has taken down over 100 accounts which were hijacked and sold for their high value usernames allegedly by members of an online marketplace called OGUsers, according to Reuters report. Access to compromised social media accounts with coveted usernames owned by a celebrity, brand, or those with individual letters and numbers are believed to have sold for tens of thousands of dollars on these marketplaces.
“Today, we’re removing hundreds of accounts connected to members of the OGUsers forum. They harass, extort and cause harm to the Instagram community, and we will continue to do all we can to make it difficult for them to profit from Instagram usernames,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mint.
According to industry experts, the crackdown was a concerted between several social media platforms including TikTok, which has also been working on stopping the practice. As per a Wired report, the short form video platform recently reclaimed several usernames being used for account squatting or impersonation.
Trading of stolen social media accounts has become quite rampant. In July 2020, Twitter accounts of over 130 high profile users and companies including Elon Musk, Barrack Obama and Apple were compromised. The hackers were able to reset the passwords of 45 of those accounts. According to cybersecurity experts, the hackers behind the attacks were also linked to the OGUsers community and used SIM swapping to break into social media accounts and log out their legitimate owners from it.
In SIM swapping, hackers first go after the cell phone numbers and try to take it under their control by calling up the phone company and using social engineering to convince them to make the change. Once the change is made, hackers use the cell number to reset the password and gain control over the social media account.
OGUsers has been breached three times since 2019 by more seasoned cybercriminals, which shows the value of these coveted social media accounts on DarkWeb.
According to cybersecurity firm Avast, OGUsers started operations in April 2017 selling shorter usernames, such as Adrian Lamo’s unused Twitter account, @6. Currently the group has over 50,000 registered users and over million posts.
Majority of social media platforms do not allow exchange and trading of usernames. Twitter in its username squatting policy clearly states, attempts to sell, buy or solicit other forms of payments in exchange for usernames are violation and may result in permanent account suspension.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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