The Social Media Spam is on the Rise
Spammers are tuning to the fastest growing communications medium to circumvent traditional security infrastructures that were used to detect email spam.
Social media is like a parallel universe to the real world. It is based on human level connections, acquaintances and relationships that develop over time. Those acquaintances and relationships can develop into prospects and customers, not unlike the real world. You wouldn’t walk down the street, overhear a conversation and interrupt people you have not met, and start pitching them your product would you? If you answered yes to that, we probably need to talk. That’s not social. Continuing on the spam assessment, you would not (or should not) add people to your email newsletter just because you got their card at an event, or found them on LinkedIn. The scenario we are discussing today is identical to doing that, or just sending a marketing email to any list of addresses that have not opted in for them.
Just like previous mediums such as email, social spam is becoming a real business for spammers. You can see it in the increasing sophistication and diversification of the mechanisms used to distribute spam, and not just in the increase in volume. The report, which was based on an analysis of 60 million pieces of unique content written by over 25 million social accounts, found that there has been a significant increase in both the amount of social spam and in the number of ways that it is distributed. Simple text- and link-based posts were found to be the most popular types of social media spam, while “Like-jacking,” social bots, fake accounts, and “spammy apps” were the most prevalent forms of distribution.
Spam by Network
• Nexgate found that Facebook and YouTube contain the most spam content compared with other social media networks.
• Facebook had the highest number of phishing attacks seeking personally identifiable information—more than four times the other social media networks.
• Spammers often post from as many as 23 different social media accounts, according to the analysis.
• Activity from these fake accounts is quite different from the activity seen by real accounts. Fake profiles usually post high volumes of content in just a few days, whereas real profiles tend to post content consistently over time.
Spammy Apps and Like-Jacking
• “Spammy apps” and “Like-jacking” are increasingly popular forms of social media spam distribution according to the report.
• Spammy apps offer to perform special tasks that a typical social media platform is unable to do, such as determining the number of profile views. Once these apps are installed, malicious software or phishing attacks can exploit the victim.
• Nexgate found that 5% of all social media apps are now spammy.
• With Like-jacking, instead of clicking on links, victims are tricked into clicking on images that appear as “Likes” or other buttons that are typically harmless. The victim is then either taken to a website hosted by a spammer, or the liked content can simply appear at the top of their news feed.
“Devin Redmond, CEO of Nexgate, said in a statement.”The fact that spam is reportedly a $200 million business in Facebook alone, and it’s delivered via a variety of bots, spam networks, and in multiple spam communication types is proof positive that this is real and thriving part of the social media world.”
The biggest strength of social spam is perhaps its reach. Email spam is delivered to one user at the time, while a spammy post on social media can potentially reach thousands or millions of people, And it’s harder to detect: only 15% of all social spam has a link that can be detected as spam, according to the report. Moreover, spammers have a variety of ways to spread spam on social media. From the classic shortened URL link after prompts like “click here,” “free,” or “wow,” to fake accounts or social bots, and even to applications that promise special features like revealing the number of users that have seen your Facebook profile but are actually spam apps. The study also reveals that Facebook and YouTube have more spam than other social networks analyzed in the report. In fact, the ratio of spam on those two networks compared to the others is 100 to 1, and Facebook takes the prize for network with highest number of phishing attacks.
Social Spam Hurts Your Marketing ROI
Social media spam isn’t just a nuisance; it can have a profoundly negative impact on your social media marketing ROI. Imagine if 1 in 7 emails sent via your email marketing campaigns contained an offer from a spammer instead of your own. Would that be okay? That would mean 14% of your emails contained a message other than your own, and to a call-to-action (CTA) to something other than your products and services. That wouldn’t just hurt your brand image; it’d immediately erase your ROI by 14%, if not more when you factor in long-term brand satisfaction and loyalty. The same is true for social media, but it’s not just theoretical – it’s actually happening today! There are several types of social spam and a growing means of distribution. Text and link-based spam are the most popular types, while Like-jacking, social bots, fake accounts, and spammy apps are the most prevalent forms of distribution. In fact, 5% of all social media apps are spammy, and 15% of all social spam contains a URL, often to other spammy content, pornography, or malware. Spammers are using these sophisticated techniques to co-opt your brand, your audience, and your social media marketing spent.
Therefore, this research shows that not only is spam rising, but it’s also increasing at a faster rate than “good” content. There are any steps social media marketers can take to stop social spam and mitigate its damage, including implementing automated social content moderation and spam removal technology.
The moral of this story is that spam is spam, no matter how you slice it. Social media marketing is about providing selfless value to your audience first, and earning the right to promote your company successfully