First off, this is not a political post. This is a scam awareness post. Hopefully people help spread the message, considering this is US Voter Registration Day according to today’s Google doodle. You also don’t have to spread this entire post to be helpful, just the two links at the end. I apologize it’s long, it could be as short as “don’t use TurboVote, they give your information to multiple partners who bolster their company value with it, FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, IGNORE THE TWITTER NOTIFICATION YOU WILL RECEIVE.”
But I also don’t want it to appear as some low-effort grab for attention. This is the kind of thing that needs lots of proof and explanation. People are exploiting the current political environment to scam young Internet users into giving away swathes of personal information to access services that shouldn’t require anything more than a ZIP code.
This one is particularly bad.
Because it will affect millions.
This evening, I got an odd sponsored post on my Twitter feed. It appeared as so:
I’ve seen sponsored links like this before. A large corporation like Twitter would create expedited guides to help their users participate in their national elections, but would also collect this information for figuring out voter behavior and trends. These would then be offered to the political parties so they know where to focus their efforts better. It’s a pretty basic business.
But the thing that caught my attention was that upon following the link, I was immediately asked to fill out personal information.
The landing page takes you here:
“After all, we’re going to be friends.”
Somebody actually approved that copy. Because that’s not creepy or anything.
Already, they are asking for your first and last name. Note that online registration for voting is legal in 39 states, so the first check should be to confirm if the user is even able to utilize the service. Also, to help direct me to a verified site that would be able to process my voting application, it wouldn’t need to know my first or last name, it would just need to know what State I resided in.
The next page gets worse.
I cropped out a lot of text in between, but basically, the next page doesn’t waste any time asking for even more personal direct methods of contacting me. Probably for “special offers” and “updates” from sponsored candidates and action committees buying their way into my inbox.
They’ll surely ask for my State to get the actual process underway, yes?
Nope. Next page is just me confirming that I am a live and active recipient of their “services.” Note they already have my name and Email/phone number, so selecting “Yes” would automatically put me on their recipient list to be pestered. But what’s interesting is if you select “No/I’m Not Sure”…
Hey, there’s the State pull-down menu! But it’s with…ehh, a lot of very personal information that’s definitely not needed to verify if I’m eligible to vote, or to redirect me to an official government source to actually register.
Let’s put in some fake credentials. Note I’ve been using a browser with cleared cache and incognito mode, so it can’t siphon off my browsing history to circumvent my trickery. I am also using a VPN, so they can’t figure out my location either.
Now I’m very concerned.
So I’m not filling in an application at all. As speculated. I’m just giving a whole bunch of extraneous information, and after giving them my name, my phone number, my Email, my street address, and my current voting status, I’m simply provided with links to the actual government resources and registration page.
I’ll register online.
I get kicked back to the landing page. The link does not work. Everything I sent in just returns me to a “null” subdomain.
Confirmation that they do store all the information you sent them. However, they assure that it’s not sold.
They also claim that their partners do not sell the information either, and they are only given that information simply to perform the services they use.
What curious findings have we here?
Basically, the company is not going to delete its databases of user information if they’re purchased by another entity. Not even the entire company, just a “division or subsidiary” of the company, like the “database of their collected addresses and user names” division.
Don’t be fooled.
TurboVote is exploiting National Voter Registration Day to data mine you. They claim neither they nor their partners sell user information, but they do collect it, store it, and they will hand it over if an interested party decides to purchase it. Not TurboVote directly, but their “partners” will. They accumulate it, all the while saying they aren’t selling it, and what’s deceptive is they’re telling the truth, it’s not being sold. That is…until they put themselves up for sale, and use that gigantic address book to bolster their company value through the roof.
You don’t have to do this. They do not need your home address to relay you to your registration form. They don’t need to keep your information stored on file. They don’t need your name, your voting eligibility, your party affiliation…any of that information. DO NOT give your personal information to third-party “voter assistance” scams like this. It’s absolutely abhorrent that Twitter is sending mass notifications to people to use this data mining service, when there are plenty of simple non-committal websites already in existence to provide you the services you need.
And remember. Please vote. If you’re confused about ballot measures and local election information without the hyperbolic nonsense blasting out of the TV ads, and wish there was some sort of Ballot-type Wikipedia site out there, Ballotopedia is a fantastic source that lays out all the information you need for every ballot out there. Even you, Mr. Ezekiel Zebadiah Abraham of Muttonbutt County, Kentuckabama, they’ll even have comprehensive guides to help justify re-electing Officer Fuzzwhistle The Cat for his fifth term as mayor.
Again, I’m fully aware this is such a long post. Hopefully this helps you guys figure out how to get involved in the legislative process, and moreso, provides you the links necessary to give actual help to others without compromising their security. You don’t have to send them this post (please don’t, it’s gigantic), just the alternate site suggested at the end.
Hey, Twitter, this is how the Russians get their info.
i saw this on snapchat too
i was reading this fic btw. it really is very good
BROWSER EXTENSION IDEA: after midnight, it covers up any and all next episode/next chapter/etc links with a thing that just says “GO TO BED, IDIOT” so u can finish the one chapter/episode but not start new ones
Nothing on Earth could have prepared me for the audio when I unmute this.