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It was only a matter of time: Twitter trending topics are now being exploited by spammers. Now that trending topics – the most talked about items on Twitter at a given point in time – are integrated as part of Twitter’s web experience, marketers are quickly realizing that these can be exploited to generate traffic.

How? Simply include the trending term in your tweet. Then, anyone who clicks the trending topic will see your ad, for free. Today’s example comes in the form of “Apple Shampoo,” which is apparently a new song from Blink 182, being shared aggressively today because of the meme #musicmonday, which is also trending.

Here’s an example. Most of the tweets below really have nothing to do with the band, the song, or #musicmonday, but are rather an ad for some sort of affiliate marketing scheme. Visiting the offending user’s account on Twitter, it’s clear that they’re simply using Twitter to push affiliate links, and now exploiting trending topics to gain more traffic.


Putting yourself in the mind of the spammer for a moment, here’s why this is so attractive: unlike typical Twitter spam, which involves mass following in hopes of gaining return followers, this is far more convenient and harder for Twitter to police. As opposed to needing to build up a following in order to get traffic for your message (Twitter has been doing a much better job of stopping this), now all you need to do is include a trending topic in your tweet.

It’s an ugly new twist on Twitter spam that is going to de-value Twitter search until the company figures out a way to stop it. For now, the best way to help stop the problem is probably to utilize the @spam Twitter account