FileSocial does exactly what it says in the tin – open an account (via Twitter OAuth) and you can upload any file you like to your Twitter network via the service. There is a size limitation of 50mb, but after that, you’re free to go.
Can anyone else see the potential downside?
Estimations vary but Twitter has approximately 25 million users. Theoretically, any one message can reach everybody, moving beyond your immediate network via the ripple effect provided by the retweet system. Most people are good, clean and wholesome, but there’s always a few bad apples in the barrel.
We’ve already had a few exploit scares on Twitter as it is – what’s to stop a few individuals using a service like FileSocial to do a lot of bad things? You know, maybe a bit like this:
This is a real message that I just posted (the things I do for you guys). It links to a file on FileSocial called ‘twitter_malware.txt’, which is harmless, but at no point in the upload process did FileSocial appear to do anything to verify the contents of the upload.
All you’d have to see is one or two celebrity names retweeting such a message – or others making it appear that they have (which is disturbingly easy to do) – and it will spread, and spread, and spread. Before you know it, most of Twitter could be infected with X, which of course means their computer is infected, which means perhaps everybody they email will soon be infected, and so on.
The problem is that while FileSocial is a nice idea on paper, their level of responsibility is zero. I’ve checked their FAQ and it doesn’t mention anything about scanning for viruses or malware. This should be rule number one for any file-sharing company. (And if they are doing it, it needs to be made very clear.)
Of course, most people will see this as an opportunity to exchange MP3s and other copyright material. And if FileSocial (or a competitor) offered a larger file-size option (maybe through a pro account), you can guarantee that Twitter would soon begin to rival the torrent portals as a way to illegally obtain movies. (Seriously, it can’t be long before Twitter and torrents get in bed together.)
First things first: until I get some level of guarantee that anything I download via Twitter has been thoroughly checked out first, I simply will not click on any of these links, no matter who is behind the upload. There’s definitely a future for file-sharing through Twitter, but it needs to come with a much higher level of security than what FileSocial appears to provide.
(Hat tip to @nrgins for the scoop.)
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