Does this video depict a future Google+ spamageddon?

Programmer says bot can 'circle' 2,500 Google+ accounts per hour

If you're among the millions of early dabblers on Google+, you have probably picked up on an undercurrent of concern there that once the new social network is opened to commercial interests - they're officially taboo, so far -- spammers are sure to rush the doors, too.

Well, an Australian programmer, Robert Norris Hills, says he has demonstrated the ease with which spammers may operate in Google+ by fashioning a bot capable of "circling" some 2,500 Google+ accounts per hour, and a three-minute YouTube video showing the thing in action. (To "circle" on Google+ is equivalent to "following" on Twitter or "friending" on Facebook.)

(2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

At the start of the video, a message from Hills reads: "Dear friends @Google: I am worried that this is going to be a significant problem. If a spaghetti programmer like me can do this, spam is going to be off the rails when you go live (with commercial accounts.) ... So, yes, it's a bot to add people to circles.  ... I hope you address this issue." (The video is set to music, so feel free to mute unless you're a fan of Incubus.)

There are some things I don't know about this video, beginning with the question of whether what it depicts is real or not. One commenter on Google+ called it a "fake," although his was the only suspicion raised among early viewers and my own was not.

Also, my own Google+ account was among the 4,000-plus apparently circled by the bot, which meant that Hill's Google+ post and video appeared in my "incoming" stream, a repository for content sent by people (or bots) who have circled me on Google+ but I have not yet circled back. It's not difficult to imagine that area becoming spam-infested.

Hill labeled the video "A certain shade of Scoble - G+ hack," which was meant to buttress his general point by noting that the bot was able to circle in less than two hours roughly the same number of accounts that social-media maven and Google+ power user Rober Scoble has accumulated since the site launched June 29.

Google+ circling would seem to need quantity limits, be they hourly or total, although a couple of commenters offered that any countermeasures would prove futile.

Over time, it will be interesting to see if Google+ is any better at combating the scourge of spam than the rest of the Internet has been.

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. Follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022