False Followers – follow up

I have contacted WordPress, and it appears that the false follower problem is widespread and receiving attention. Here are two observations from a WordPress Forum that illuminate a little, and a reply I got from WordPress:

  1. So my hypothesis about these nefarious Email Followers may be correct: I suspect that, whenever we post a new article in our blogs, these bogus ‘followers’ (probably a bot of some kind) receive a notification e-mail and a bot then adds a Comment on the new article, and that comment would contain spam links.

 

2) from a WordPress “expert”

kokkieh

Howdy all,

Thanks for all the reports. We’re aware of this issue and working block these spam followers. We cannot just block all @outlook.com emails, though, as that will also block many real people from following your sites, so this isn’t just a quick simple fix.

I know this is incredibly annoying, but I also want to reassure you that that’s all it is – annoying. There is no way these spam followers can put your site, your content, or your private account data in any danger. It just increases the number of email notifications WordPress.com needs to send out for each new post, so if anything it’s an attempted attack on us trying to overload our email servers, not on your sites or accounts.

You can remove the spam followers under My Site ->People, but that won’t prevent new follows from coming in. You might also consider temporarily disabling email notifications of new followers in your account settings until we manage to get these blocked. You’ll still see a notification each time in the WordPress.com admin bar, but at least you won’t have your inbox flooded with emails from fake subscriptions.

Please don’t email these addresses back – another potential reason for this is that someone is fishing for emails which they can then use to try and spam directly, and emailing them back will only provide them with your personal email address – something they cannot get hold of by merely following your site.

We’ll update this thread with more details on this once we have them.

  • 3) A reply to my notification to WordPress

    Hi there!
    I’m Darcie, a member of the WordPress.com Expert community. It appears that this is happening to other bloggers, and staff is aware. You can see a recent reply from staff on this matter here:https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/weird-followers/page/2?replies=49#post-3064066

    There’s no security issue, and your blog is not in any danger by having these spammy followers. You can remove them, if desired.

    Hopefully that provides more information on the issue! Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

For now, delete the false followers and wait for new information!
Peter
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3 comments on “False Followers – follow up

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Thank you for caring, and taking the time to follow this up for us!
    I agree with WP.
    The internet seems like the real world to me, albeit, a bit safer. Afterall a bot can’t really kill you, yet.
    This parasitic online gloaming-on is annoying, but just consider how annoying the real world can be!
    If a follower has only an email address and no blog, I may approve a comment from them on my blog, knowing I can blacklist them if they misbehave, but I would never respond, or initiate any form of contact with a follower with no blog, because I have no idea who they are. This is the greatest thing about WP. You can check out anyone who comments or follows you by looking at their blog, which tells you so very much about them. If they don’t have a blog, caution is required.
    It seems so much like real life to me, separating the wheat from the chaff, and all that.
    Be well my friend. And thank you.

    Like

    • pastpeter says:

      Thank you, as always, for your thoughtfulness and kindness. Agreed that these bot followers are merely annoying at this stage. But Marian and I have both been bitten by malware that came from one careless keystroke, so I am suspicious now of anything that’s a bit off. I think you are wise about sorting comments by whether there is a blog to read. WP is about the only place where comments are kind now. I have stopped reading them in so many cases where they descend into vitriol – even in some theological journals online! And opera comments are THE worst!! Thanks for being an example of how to do comments right. It adds much to your photographic brilliance! How is the Holler – heating up? The northeast is still stuck in at least weekly snow storms, tho the snow melts quicker now!

      Like

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