Spammers and other cyber nuisances have been looking at social media as a way to reach (and irritate) more people. But not all social networks are just letting the spam flood in.
Pinterest is taking an aggressive approach to mitigating the spam problem, according to a recent AllThingsD article. The social website is blocking certain types of links from being shared to cut down on spam and other malicious content. Pinterest is now blocking three types of URLs from being shared:
• Affiliate links: These give financial incentives to the individual sharing the link.
• URL shorteners: URLs posted with services like Bitly, which disguise part of the URL to make it shorter. When Pinterest users click these a warning will pop up.
• Links with additional information: Pinterest is stripping the extra information that comes attached with links created by resources such as Google’s URL Builder, which companies often use to tag links for analytics purposes.
Many of these strategies are used by legitimate companies wanting to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and engage consumers. However, spammers and malware developers also use these tools. For example, a cyber criminal could use URL shorteners to disguise the link of a malware-ridden website.
How widespread is the spam problem?
With all the efforts to reduce spam, you might be curious as to just how big the problem is on social media. A recent Technorati article had some insights into the prevalence of spam on Twitter. As it turns out, as many as 50 percent of Twitter followers for the average big name brand aren’t even real people. They’re bots!
The problem isn’t isolated to Twitter, either. As Technorati pointed out, 5-6 percent of Facebook users might be fake accounts created by bots. The problem is a big one for both individuals and businesses. Both organizations and users become potential targets for spam and organizations can’t track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns as accurately due to this phenomenon. According to a BBC study, many businesses invest heavily in social media campaigns only to receive fake “likes” from bots.
“To test their theory, the BBC created a Facebook page for a fake company called Virtual Bagel,” the article states. “When they promoted the Page to get likes, the number it received from Egypt and the Philippines was higher than their intended targets of the US and UK.”
Have you ever been targeted by a spam bot on Facebook or other social media? Did you know the account was a bot right away?