Social Media Wars: The Spammer Strikes Back

Like the lady at the greasy spoon in that famous Monty Python sketch, I DON’T LIKE SPAM! OK, I’m not talking about that wonderful meat product, but the unsolicited bulk messages that fill up your inbox. If you have any idea what’s in my inbox, you wouldn’t be surprised with the shameless messages of companies asking me to buy Viagra at 20 percent off or some man in Nigeria telling me about a wonderful opportunity so long as I send a big fat check in the mail.

While Google and Yahoo! have seemed to hold the line in the battle against spam, the spammers have been relentless in attacking social media. With their global reach, social media is not immune to these annoyances and many of these spammers have no shame in deceiving everyday users into their get-rich-quick schemes. How are these sites battling such nuisances? Here’s a breakdown of what they’re doing in the Spam Wars:

Facebook

Since Facebook is a global platform, it has had its fair share of cyberattacks. One of us knows at least one friend on Facebook who has posted the random sweepstakes link or a link some innocuous video of a very attractive lady—without their knowledge. Facebook does have rules putting the law down on spammers (see here)—including a spam filter, warning people who message the same thing constantly, banning bots and reporting spam. In addition, just yesterday, Facebook introduced some new features to wall posts, including hiding posts that they deem as spam. This out of sight, out of mind approach may make spam less visible to your friends (you don’t really want your wall posts covered with offers of a free iPad 3—or do you?) but in the long run doesn’t effectively wither out spam from the world’s largest social media site.

Twitter

Twitter isn’t immune to the Spam Wars either. In fact, it disappoints me when I get a notification on my Twitter app that someone replied to a tweet, only to find out it’s just a virus link or some random post about why kids love Disneyland! *sniffles* So every time I just happen to tweet anything remotely close to Disney, I get offers for free Disneyland tickets? Man, what a life. Fortunately, Twitter does have anti-spam teams to weed out the evil little spammers that lurk our pages and has a comprehensive approach to reporting spam and blocking them. However, it’s not enough and maybe they should find ways for us individual users to block messages as we see fit.

YouTube

Check out those cans.

What’s considered spam on YouTube are users taking advantage of different tags and descriptions only leading viewers to a video that has absolutely nothing to do with them in order to increase viewership. Of course, the latest spam problem has been the Reply Girls—you know, those cleavage-friendly vixens that ruin YouTube for the rest of us—and NMR has tackled the issue at hand here. After hearing the cries of a multitude of users (including us NMR writers) complaining of their YouTube experience damaged, the video-sharing arm of Google has acknowledged that these girls are spam and Bing Chen of YouTube tweeted that the engineers are “definitely attacking this from several angles (spam, etc.).” So long Reply Girls?

Pinterest

The new kid on the social media block, Pinterest, is not immune to the Spam Wars either. Lately, the company has dealt with account bots that crowd out other content and force links to advertised products—all in the name of annoying good-standing users. Some, like Steve, don’t hide the fact that they are spamming the heck out of Pinterest users (and pranking them at the same time). He claimed in a recent interview that he earned $1,000 in Amazon Affiliate money to drive links to his site by spamming Pinterest users, but backtracked and said it was a “prank” to see if his actions could go viral. Good job, kid…now Pinterest is getting to the bottom of the spamming by changing its algorithm so people like Steve won’t have his products promoted in such  fashion. A company spokesman told The Globe & Mail, “Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.”

[Sources: The Globe & Mail, Daily Dot]