Here’s what I learned DM’ing with fake copyright phishers

Photo Illustration: Save As / Medium; Source: Getty Images

Every month, a couple accounts contact me on Instagram, say they work for the platform, and threaten to delete my handle unless I click on bogus URLs designed to collect my personal information. As far as I can tell, they’re after one thing: My blue check mark.

I’m decidedly not famous, but I have a verified Instagram account thanks to a previous job. (I ran the company Instagram, among other things.) Scammers often send me sketchy messages saying my profile has violated copyright law and will be removed in 24 hours if I don’t fill out a form. I


For instance, the Swedish billionaire appears to have once made a birthday playlist for Mark Zuckerberg, featuring Tenacious D, four Green Day songs, and ‘Dick In A Box’.

I write a quarterly-ish series for OneZero called The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, which investigates the bizarrely genius ways entrepreneurs and scammers game streaming behemoths for listens, money, and infamy.

As such, I’m always keeping an eye on Twitter, Reddit, and beyond for chatter about Spotify (if you have a tip, my DMs are open!). Somehow, a month or two back, this tweet came across my timeline, and I was immediately intrigued.

Twitter user @JoannaNewSum41 had the brilliant idea to see what Spotify’s CEO himself, well, listens to on Spotify, and discovered… drumroll please… a playlist titled “Happy birthday…


Find Your Reader

Some tactical advice on tough lede image decisions

From Getty

Though “header” art is often the last item on a writer’s checklist when producing an article, it’s a vitally important piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting people to engage with a story. On many social platforms, in fact, this top image takes up the most real estate out of any element of an article’s packaging.

Many creators want the best, most beautiful lede image for every article, but you’re not always going to have original illustrations or photography for every piece. This is where you have to get creative.

As an audience development editor, I know that…


The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify

Search engine optimized accounts that publish hundreds of nearly identical tracks rake in streams and profits

Photo illustration; Image source: gaiamoments/Getty Images

Welcome to The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, a series about the schemes that rack up streams, money, and infamy on the popular streaming service.

Ever played some white noise on Spotify while you fall asleep? There’s a decent chance a U.K.-based company called Ameritz created it — though you wouldn’t know that from looking at Spotify.

“Truly brainless to produce,” a former in-house sound designer for Ameritz told OneZero via email, requesting anonymity due to potential professional repercussions. …


Internet Happy Places

At the end of a year in which we could not explore much IRL, team OneZero is sharing our favorite places we found online.

Near the beginning of quarantine, a buddy and I were trying to find simple, mindless online games that we could easily play while cooped up in our respective apartments. At some point, my friend just Googled “best free first-person shooter game online” and came across Krunker.io, a CS:GO-esque first-person shooter game with a vaguely Minecraft-y aesthetic.

Krunker (I still do not know why it’s called “Krunker”) is fun. It has a bunch of unique classes, interesting…


Here’s how some people are safely celebrating their pandemic holiday

Credit: Say-Cheese / Getty Images

Last night, my OneZero colleague and one-time karaoke partner Will Oremus sent a tweet into the ether that resonated with me — and a lot of other people as well.

Under normal circumstances, I would soon be traveling to my Aunt Sally’s house in Peru, Indiana, to enjoy several days of engorging myself on deep fried turkey and rewatching The Godfather with beloved relatives. But with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans to stay home this week, I’ve forgone those plans to do, well, just about nothing. …


AOC’s nascent Twitch channel.

While plenty of U.S. politicians can’t even figure out how to use Twitter, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is well on her way to stardom on a new frontier of online connection: Twitch.

On Monday, AOC joined the live-streaming platform (which she has already been known to drop in on from time to time) with a verified account, and announced she was looking for an Among Us lobby.

It looks like she might be playing her first round with notable streamers Pokimane and HasanAbi.

Back in May, AOC announced that she, like everyone, had gotten into Animal Crossing and would be…


The forgotten MMORPG has been a comfort during quarantine

Image: Puzzle Pirates

In the mid-2000s, while everyone else seemed to be killing grunts as Halo’s Master Chief or grinding away hours in World of Warcraft, I was sailing the 2D seas of puzzling piracy. And now I’m back on deck.

Growing up, I was obsessed with video games but was denied a proper gaming system by my parents. I had to make do with what could run on my computer, which mostly included educational CD-ROM games and any other titles my parents deemed to have some sort of scholastic tie-in. Age of Empires II got the nod because of its rich historical…


The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify

The platform is filled with search-optimized spammers, and there’s no end in sight

Photo illustration sources: Kevin Liu; Kilito Chan; Thanapol Kuptanisakorn; EyeEm/Getty Images

Welcome to The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, a series about the schemes that rack up streams, money, and infamy on the popular streaming service.

You’ve probably never heard of them, but Relaxing Music Therapy has had a pretty damn successful music career. At least, on Spotify.

This “artist” has more than 500,000 monthly listeners on the platform, all thanks to One Simple Trick: optimizing their name to show up prominently in Spotify’s search results.

Spotify is full of “artists” like this: Pro Sound Effects Library, On Hold Music, Yoga, Jazz Music Therapy for Cats, and Natural White Noise Best Nature…


A nesting doll of fakery shows how difficult it can be to parse out what’s real on social media

Late last month, as protests against police brutality kicked off nationwide after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, a photo of a burning McDonald’s spread across Twitter. Posted in a tweet from the bogus account “@Breaking9ll” on May 28, the caption read “McDonald’s Has Fallen,” implying that the fire was the result of recent demonstrations.

Tens of thousands engaged with the tweet, but as Snopes eventually confirmed, the picture had been mislabeled: The fire in the photo actually happened back in November 2016 and had nothing to do with protests — it was the result of a…

Peter Slattery

Audience Development Editor @ OneZero

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