https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul_Harker

Spam links in profiles

I have been trying to address this with Duolingo via abuse reporting for the better part of a week, with zero success. There are profiles with porn links. I report them, Duolingo reports to me that they have been removed, but they are still there.

EDIT -- this was "Porn links in profiles. Please allow removing followers" but as some have indicated, there is a way to block a user. However, I would truly rather that Duolingo be more proactive on this issue due the the quantity of children on this site.

EDIT 2 -- Moderators changed this thread title from "Porn links in profiles" to "Spam links in profiles" to protect the innocent. I find this sadly ironic since the offending -- actual porn -- profiles which I reported still exist.

October 1, 2019

90 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

Oh those children again.

It's funny that they are a problem when it comes to direct messaging between students yet links to porn sites and inappropriate text are allowed to be set up unchecked?

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FerranDiya

It depends. If the porn is in the target language, it might just be an attempt at fully immersing themselves in that culture. Not to speak of the valuable vocabulary you might pick up in the process.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sandybell1990

It's not in the target language. It's always in English and quite graphic. And by the way, sex trafficking and exploitation should never have anything to do with experiencing any other culture.

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eopithecus

what a load of crap

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HunterBart9

how do you get 13 lingots for taking about thatt?

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

There's your 13. dab

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

There are regular porn sites on both Leagues and Followers. They do not affect me personally but I report them instantly to try and keep Duo as clean as possible, for everyone. With the exception of one humdinger, Duo have responded immediately and I thank them for this.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thea210

Hi Linda, you mean ‘regularly’ I presume. :) Good thing you report them.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Thea. Hi, yes, regular as in often, not regular as in "he's a regular (nice) guy". I'm up on my American:-) Easy to block em but that doesn't solve the problem. It's the only reason I look at my Leagues as they hover there amongst the unsuspecting. Furtive and foul :-(

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thea210

True, blocking does not solve the problem. So I do appreciate it very much that you do take the trouble to report them.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/garpike

regular as in often, not regular as in "he's a regular (nice) guy"

The Earth has mass extinctions regularly. The magnetic poles flip regularly, and ice ages come and go with considerable regularity.
I regularly drink coffee, but if I order a 'Regular Coffee', I expect it to come from Alpha Leonis (it never does).

Easy to block em but that doesn't solve the problem.

All these pornographic profiles are bots, exploiting the only way to advertise a web address on DL without verifying a unique e-mail address. There will be tens of thousands unseen for every one your report. DL needs a technical solution to this. Your efforts are laudable, but I'm afraid they almost certainly will not have made any measurable difference.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jairapetyan

Thank you all for this discussion. Paul, Linda, Garpike, Uphilldweller, and everyone who has commented on this page. I will bring it up among the mods and see if we can get anything done. And please continue to report. Here is the link, if you haven't already bookmarked it: https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tembo441

Linda, If I could digress a moment, where does "furtive and foul" come from? It sounds vaguely H G Wells, but I can't find it - yet I know I've heard it somewhere and now it's bugging me because I can't work out where.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/521pjj
October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tembo441

Thank you, but I'm sure it's something much older. Not any of those. And I'm not thinking of any of the Shakespearean quotes "Fair is foul and foul is fair" etc., either. Something else. Still bugging me. It's not important.

And if I'm wrong and it's not, then it's a brilliant phrase from Linda. alliterative and full of forboding... I must use it sometime.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SupremeLeader.

I'm a student in High School, I don't why people do this, they need to act more mature instead of putting stupid links.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dkahn400

I think the motivation is to make money, either by driving traffic to the site or by monetization of the link itself.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

And also, just doing forbidden stupid things.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

A lot of the people I've seen are bots, or some random person from a foreign country who doesn't speak English well.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gh0stwheel

Here is how to Report abuse.
(Just in case someone else wants to know.)

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Duolingo help center An image of an owl on a wire linking to Duolingo's help center in English

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

This could be made a lot simpler.

I just reported a spammer and in the time it took they got out 25 posts.

Duolingo needs to be on the side of the angels or die.

EDIT

Fair play the matter was dealt with.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mreaderclt

I hope no one is actually clicking on links in a profile.

You might end up with a virus.

If you're really just dying to click on a link, run it through a safety check first at a place such as URLVoid or Norton SafeWeb.

Google "How to Test a Suspicious Link Without Clicking It" (on the Lifewire website) for a good rundown on this whole topic.


Also, it would be nice if Duolingo implemented stronger blocks on the website.

From what I understand, the only thing blocking does here is prevent a person from following you.

If I block someone, I'd like to never see any trace of that person, and for them to never see any trace of my profile or activity.

I think they can still see my forum posts and my profile.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sandybell1990

Thankfully links in profiles don't seem to be clickable (i.e., they're just text), but I agree with others that there is no place for them on this website and I too have been reporting them as abuse.

Yes, blocking seems to be pretty useless, that's why the first time I reported such a profile I suggested that Duolingo add a Report Abuse button on the same menu as the Block User option on the user profile, to make it easier for legitimate users to report this type of garbage, which has no place on an educational website.

More recently there were a couple of offensive language comments on questions on a language-specific Duolingo forum I check from time to time, and downvoting did absolutely nothing, so I had to report them as abuse. I think a Report button on the comments would work great as well.

Instagram has Report buttons not just on profiles, but also on every post, and it works great. If Duolingo thinks that would be too taxing on their staff, I don't need them to get back to me to let me know that they removed it, I just want the offensive content gone within the next 24 hours or so.

If they can't prevent this type of content from being added to their site, they should at least give us the tools to report it and then they should clean it up. The current Report Abuse feature is way too buried for the average user to even bother.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sandybell1990

Looks like we have repeat offenders! I wanted to confirm that the links were in fact just text, so I took a look at the screenshots I had provided with those abuse reports back on September 5th and 7th. I also checked those profiles again, and the links and explicit descriptions are back.

The first one was following about 1,300 people back then, which made me doubt the hacked profile story, but now it's following more than 1,500 people. Both the link and the description are slightly different on each profile from when I submitted my reports, but they're still the same type of junk. I guess I'll have to follow up on those abuse reports.

EDIT: I removed those two profile links because after submitting my follow-up emails, I received an email from support@duolingo.com the following day that the user accounts were deactivated and indeed, when I tried to access them I got a 404 Error.

So, it seems that the Duolingo policy is to contact the offending user account first to give them a chance to explain themselves in case they are legitimate or have been hacked.

I would suggest that Duolingo staff monitor the account and follow up themselves a few days later to see if the account is still clean. I as the person who initially reported it should not have to check on it later an report it again. Otherwise, thank you Duolingo Support for promptly taking action after my follow-up reports!

I would also suggest that from time to time, on a regular basis, user accounts who follow more than say 500 people should be considered suspect and investigated.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/susanstory

For Desktop there is also an extension in the Chrome Web Store called "Malwarebytes Browser Guard". A few times it has blocked websites for me. For Desktop, using a program called Sandboxie is helpful. You can run your browser in Sandboxie and if you happen to get on a webpage that has a virus, just close the browser and delete the contents of the Sandbox. If anything asks to get into your computer, just click "Block" or 'Quarantine" and you'll be okay.

Sandboxie is free. It doesn't cost much to buy a lifetime license but you can use it for free, as long as you want, but they'll give you a nag screen if you use it for free.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

There are a lot of blockers, and probably more efficient ones, but yes, blockers are a good idea.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cartergraysons

A lot of times there accounts are hacked and the links are put there by hackers. Most of the time it is not a persons fault.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/merkavar

what does the existing block function do? does it not work? the cogs icon when viewing their profile

Also could you just not go on their profile?

But you are right, they should be removed, especially if you are getting responses back saying they have been.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

That's NOT a solution.
Kids are here, and it's very good to protect them. Flagging is better than blocking.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/merkavar

What about report and block?

One of the problems the op seemed to have was that the links were still there after reporting.

If you have reported then all you have left is to block.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinR86

Please report these accounts when you see them. They are tracked and actions are taken on these as soon as we're aware of specific accounts.

If the spam content returns following a removal, it is because the owner of the account hasn't changed their password to force a logout to prevent the profile information from being changed again. We handle these accordingly as necessary.

I understand that this is a concern and we're doing what we can to prevent this in the future. Every report honestly helps.

If a report isn't acted on, it is possible that it landed in the wrong subsection.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul_Harker

Kevin R. (you?) responded to my report four days ago, saying that the offending profile had been cleaned. However when I checked there was still offending material on the profile. I waited two days to ensure it wasn't just an old cached copy, then I clicked REPLY and responded to the email to report that it was still there. Yet today the profile still has the offending material. Where did I go wrong?

Also, I believe my experience shows that a better system needs to be in place as there are clearly cracks through which things fall. I am not the only person in this discussion to have noticed "reappearing" prohibited content, so this is not an isolated event. The onus should not be on us to go back and make sure things were done correctly.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinR86

The users are given the chance (since it isn't their fault) to change their password to prevent further action from the bot. You did nothing wrong as it's more of a matter of circumstance.

It is common for my deletions to be reversed rather quickly if there is no intervention from the user who owns the accounts. In cases where these continue with no clear actions from the user, I take measures to ensure that it cannot continue on that account.

I actually agree with you as well. Please do not assume that I don't find the matter to be a serious one. It's the very reason why I'm fighting to show how severe the issue is on my end for any additional measures to be taken. I track these and spend many hours weekly doing so in addition to my other responsibilities.

I appreciate you making this topic to bring greater awareness as well.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul_Harker

Kevin -- thank you very much for your thoughtful response. It is truly appreciated.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwbrand1

Hi Kevin, Back on 8-Aug-2019 you tried to help with a reported a spam profile, but the spam link is still there. The Reference number is 1476288. Do I need to submit another report?

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinR86

I've taken care of this one. :)

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwbrand1

Thank you Kevin.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hm437e

Hello, KevinR: As a regular contributor to your workload (you've addressed quite a number of my "new followers" ) I want to publicly thank you for your efforts!

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nighthawk2.5

How do you report profiles though? I have no idea

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SethBollma

I find it sad that people would put sites like that on Doulingo. There are plenty of kids that use this and would click not knowing what it is.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

"Spam" is an unfortunate edit. In fact, I clicked on this thread because "spam link" seemed like an oxymoron. Spam, by definition, is sent to multiple people. Inappropriate links might be more apt.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

Yes SPAM is an abused word that in computing meant unsolicited mail in the context of E-mail.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stergi3

I think this option should be reported. It is definitely a spam use of Duolingo. But this option, as any other tool in life, can be used to exchange messages with your fellow learners, if you want to. Up to yo 32 characters, means a Good morning, for instance! :) Just keep your avatar permanent to be recognized. Some general thoughts about this social window that Duolingo left us: After a long time of experimentation Duolingo decided that there is no other way to communicate with your friends and others, except for this forum. It is a complete collapse of the social learning dimension. I guess because it is costly to moderate all this community. So we have followers or friends we cannot interact with. It seems odd to be followed by some persons you cannot say a word to.

This way I decided to make my profile private. So I got rid of leagues which are full of hackers and cheaters and useless friends that I cannot interact with. Really a bitter and hard decision!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThiagoNascsilva

It is really a problem.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sandybell1990

I reported a couple of these profiles too and Duolingo informed me that they removed the links from the profiles. Supposedly those user accounts had been hacked. So, they did not remove the profile page itself, but the link was gone from the profile.

If you see no change at all, it's possible that your browser could be caching the old web page. On a desktop browser you can do a hard refresh of that page (Ctrl + F5), but on a mobile browser you're usually out of luck and have to wipe the entire browser cache to be able to see the change.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinR86

The title of this thread has been updated to "Spam links" since the title could be read by users who are possibly underage.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/garpike

Age-restrictions apply for viewing porn, not for viewing the word 'porn'. People are concerned about under-aged users inadvertently being exposed to the former, which is one of the main points of this thread, not the latter.
You have now obscured this central purpose to anyone who sees the title of this thread on the list of threads—'spam' is a vague word that can cover all sorts of things, most of which are not likely to cause so much concern when it comes to children stumbling across them. But the type of spam under discussion here invariably consists of links to pornographic websites. Anyone worried about this matter is now less likely to click on this thread.

If it is now DL policy to make thread titles vaguer and less informative on the basis that they contain inoffensive words that describe what the problem actually is, then this policy is quite ridiculous.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

Well thought out and presented argument garpike.

I wondered what this thread was about until I realised that the title had been sanitised.

At the time of writing a casual visitor might think I'd put porn front and centre into a thread about spam.

It's crazy how we have to tip toe because some won't read the T&Cs. Then again why have conditions that aren't verified?

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

Wow, something about that's just extremely funny, whether it's the fact that it took this long to change the title of the top post or that it was so absolutely mortifying that it had to be changed. Honestly, pornography is referenced so many times in this discussion, you're going to have to do a lot of editing.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinR86

It actually was reported as well.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

Well, I hope it doesn't get deleted since this is actually a very important discussion, or, at the very least, that more action is taken.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wayne____

Good. I'd hate for anyone old enough to use an app to learn a language to suddenly find out that porn exists.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rosalie_L

Click on your follower's profile, then there's a very light-colored gear icon in the upper-right of the profile. Click it, and it'll let you block them. You don't need to turn yourself to private.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Blocking them is not the solution. Removing them instead as we are not kids, and so, not the victims.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SecretlyAHippo

Rather than children, they look like bots to me. The only ones I've found have been [made-up noun][bunch of random numbers][no profile picture], it seems they're bots. You've done the right thing reporting them.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Hi SecretlyH. The profile pics I report are generally too graphic to repeat here. Not much phases me in life but I would not want children or vulnerable people to see them even for 10 seconds. Good to see you:-)

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewBalz2

Thank you for thinking about the children. Im sure you don't need a lingo but have one any way.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaxMarriott2

what a crazy world

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chibki

I very recently reported one and got the email that it was taken care of a few days ago. So after seeing this I just checked and yeah... still there.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/merkavar

Just guessing here but duolingo could delete it then the user/bot just puts it back, right?

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Write again!

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

I'm surprised, as I sent emails to the support, and each time, I had nice replies. Once it was about offensive user names.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeCrioxRouge13

Luckily, I haven't seen any accounts with links leading to stuff like porn. But I know if my little brother saw something like that because of immature kids/ hackers, I would be very upset. I think Duolingo should do a sweep and search to find these accounts like a week cleaning process. They can send emails out to the accounts before the sweeping.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NonstopCJ

I also once reported this kind of profile. And nothing happened, then I reported it again, and after that, the profile has been removed. As the admin explained in the letter, that in that case, the profile was hacked (apparently they see it somehow) and they mailed the original user to change their password. Since it didn't help, after the second report they removed the profile. I think that not in all cases they can immediately delete it. And it seems that there a lot of reports, so maybe it'll be a good idea to report twice. But you shouldn't just be reporting people for fun or for a joke it could cause the loss of their work and profile.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarenSavin

you can block followers. Click on their profiles and then click on the settings gear across from their name. The rest is pretty self explanatory.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chinkoln

There aren't just inappropriate things in profiles and links. There have been many ads that have been come up on my screen that should not be allowed on any site. I understand that this is a free education site but there are some things that shouldn't be allowed on the site. I don't want to pay money to block ads to keep my mind, eyes, and soul clean.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DwightFairfield

Turn yourself private, It should resolve the issue. Right now I'm private due to that.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul_Harker

Unfortunately that blocks me and my family members from each other as well, and we like to see what each other are doing. But it would be better than nothing.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DwightFairfield

Oh, I didnt know. Maybe listen to other people's suggestions then. Good luck!

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Azzy. It only resolves part of the problem, that's the problem:-)

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DwightFairfield

But It stops bots from following them?

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

It won't resolve the issue, as the person is reporting people for the children sake.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emak02

Yeah, I saw it once and reported it, but I don't know what happened afterwards.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RileyBuentello

Je suis totalement d'accord les gens ne sont pas matures et ont besoin d'aide pauvres petits enfants!

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Xenon-

I too have received at least two friend requests from people with such porn links in their profiles. However, since those two cases (which were temporally close to one another), it did not happen to me again so I just ignored them.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cathy180021

If Duo thinks chatting with random people problematic when it comes to underaged learners, (Which it certainly is, speaking from having been at one time one of the team of moderators on an all ages site charged with trying to stamp out child porn and inappropriate submissions/interactions!) then WHY does the discussion icon on the IOS platform now lead me to a link to sign up for premium to do just that? I am boggled...

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/merkavar

How does plus/premium allow you to chat with random people?

Do you just mean here on the forums? I’m confused. I have plus and can’t chat anywhere but here.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cathy180021

Maybe it’s another a/b test but that is what it pulls up when I click the discussion icon on duo app loaded on my phone now. Ah! Correction now it says ‘Duolingo plus Practice Spanish With a tutor Via text Messages try seven days free ‘ please ignore caps, my text to voice does that sometimes. So it is -not- random people.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LyudmilaGo11

Ugh. How childish and disgusting.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cucumberman

I think a lot of these could be removed just by some simple coding. It seems that these profiles, aware that Duolingo is on the hunt for them, replace letters with symbols that are letters, but look different. If Duolingo were to implement some code that accounted for this, this would be much less of a problem.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewBalz2

I am child

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jon786634

Push the link to the users name. Push the gear icon. Select block.

October 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hikmet237072

Yeah, this a problem that need to be solved asap

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShaynaWarf

I feel like the owners of discuss should delete the discuss botton or have the people check it before it is posted

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoyaJoyce

when i reported them after receiving word that i was being followed by some of the folks with the porn links Duo said they removed the links and notified the members who had the links and if they didn't change their passwords they might come back to them....

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JACKDUNNE5

Yes. But one Question. How do you report them?

October 5, 2019
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