The Mystery Behind Misleading Links on X

On the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, users have been confused by a strange issue. Sometimes, when they click on a link in a post that's supposed to take them to one website, they end up somewhere completely different.

For example, a post might show a link to a Forbes article, but when you click on it, you find yourself on a Telegram account that promotes questionable cryptocurrency deals.

A security expert found one such misleading post. It was an ad on X that looked like it was leading to But when clicked, it actually took people to a Telegram group called "Crypto with Harry," which gave suspect advice on cryptocurrency.

Here's why this happens: Normally, when you see a link on a website, it should take you directly to the first website mentioned. But X tries to guess the final destination of the link and shows that instead. The trouble starts when the first website the link goes to is a middleman site that decides where to send you based on whether it thinks you're a real person or a computer program checking the link.

In this case, the middleman website was joinchannelnow[.]net. If it thought a real person was clicking, it sent them to the Telegram group. But if it thought a computer program from X was checking, it would send it to a real Forbes article. That's why X's preview showed even though people ended up somewhere else.

This issue is a big problem on X's mobile app because you can't see where a link will really take you before you click, unlike on a computer where you can hover over the link to check its destination.

People have used this trick to trick users into visiting sites they didn't intend to, which could be dangerous. It could lead to scams, malware, or spam. Some reports suggest that this issue has been known and exploited for a while.

So, it's wise to be cautious about clicking on links in X posts, especially on mobile where you can't preview the link's true destination.


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