During the process of investigating a user that appears to be cropping photographs and abusing bidbots via reposting, we stumbled upon a novel and disturbing type of abuse that left us in awe. Here is how the story begins....
We searched and found the original source of that image, the photo is cropped from this other photograph:
Applemac12 has been contacted to confirm that the photograph was taken by him and here is his reply:
EDIT: The user @adrianobalan edited the post with the plagiarized photograph after the publication of this post, editing two other pictures out, which are probably plagiarized too.
Link to "deleted" image
Edited 14 hours ago
Continuing with our in depth investigation, we then began to look into who this user was associated with, to assess what was his network of support and proximity. We found that the user most associated with this user was @sardrt since he resteems most of what she posts and viceversa. We also found that both users seem to derive a large part of their votes from bidbots, specifically @ocdb in the case of @sardrt and @minnowbooster in the case of @adrianobalan and that both users use a significant part of their votes on eachother.
Then we begun to look into @sardrt, and initially we found puzzling posts like these:
Initially it looks like reposting the same picture with different numbers in a series called "flowers". It didnt make sense, we needed to go....
Under the Hood
By looking at the titles we noticed that the posts' titles had been edited, and in those same posts we found this edition history:
A post about Boboli Gardens in Florence, completely "erased", and edited to a picture of a flower
A post about the Carnation flower, completlety "erased" and edited to a picture of a flower that is not a carnation.
A post about about Geraniums, completely "erased" and edited to a picture of a flower that is not a geranium.
At this point we remembered that we got to this user because it was associated to adrianobalan, so we went and looked for the same pattern in his posts and....
A 2 year old post with a rose and a travel tag....
That was originally a post about Saint Peter's Church in Rome...
Edited 27 days ago...
After this one we found dozens of posts by @adrianobalan edited in such a manner starting 28 days ago, it was then we realized we had a pattern of abuse at hand and what it was all about.
What's Going On Here?
The users seem to be editing posts to avoid the detection of the reposting or recycling of the photographs and text in those posts and also in an attempt to conceal previous content from reverse image search and regular text search once the content is reposted again so that said practice is not detected and the posts can be presented as original, unique content.
Once the reason behind this practice became apparent, we went back to the @sardrt profile and looked for more cases like the ones above, and we also found dozens edited in the same manner starting 26 days ago, including these:
An 11 months old post edited to a picture of a blurry suset
That used to be a post about a UNESCO site in Palermo
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Sunsets 66"
And What about the Reposts?
Let us show you now, a few cases of the actual reposts, starting by a recent post:
And here is a post made on September 2017:
With the same text plus the English version and mostly the same pictures.
Edited 6 days ago to the picture of a sunset and retitled "Sunset33"
Here is a post made 7 months ago:
With the English version only and mostly the same pictures
Edited 21 days ago to the same picture we saw above of the plant in a tree and retitled "Nature 32"
Here are the reposted pictures in those last 3 posts:
And here are 9 posts where some or most of the same pictures and text are recycled about the Santorini Island and then the posts "erased" and edited with random content and titles as seen above:
Bonus Bizarre Edit
Bonus Repost in EOS Trybe.one
This is Jaguar Force,
Reporting Directly from the Jungle.