If you are an Admin on a Facebook Page you may have noticed already the new ‘Spamâ€ option on your pages. You may also already seen it at work hiding those pesky sales pitches for Magic Acai Berries and the like.
Facebook is now helping Page admins ensure that the most valuable content posted by users on their Page wall is more visible to anyone viewing the Page. We are now offering automatic content filtering on Page walls that will ensure that posts soliciting spam are removed from public view as well as ensure that posts containing good content remain more visible.
If you have your page setting such that posts to your page are separated by your organization’s and then all others, you will see the ‘Spamâ€ link as the 4th option in this list. Not to worry’ only Page Admins can see this link.
Clicking the ‘Spamâ€ link will show you all the content Facebook as deemed spam worthy and moved off your page.
Mouseing over the spam post will reveal a little ‘Xâ€ to the top right of the post. Clicking the ‘Xâ€ will reveal several options:
1. Remove the post
2. Unmark as Spam
3. Report as Abuse
If the post does really belong in the general content of your organization’s Facebook pageâ€¦ then by all means click that Unmark option. If however the post does fall into that dark side of the internet category called spam, then I suggest you report as abuse and then remove it. This will alert Facebook to the insidious nature of the offending poster and may hopefully save a fellow organization admin a few moments of time later on down the line.
If you have a mixed wall, meaning you show all posts from your organization mixed with other’s post, you won’t see the spam link. You will want to first click the ‘Optionsâ€ link, then following the same instructions above.
Thanks to popularity of Facebook we can use it connect with like minded people and promote, support and grow our non-profit and for profit organizations alikeâ€¦ andâ€¦ due to the popularity of Facebook the spammers will start to show up more and more. Thankfully, Facebook is putting measures into place to make the Facebook experience a good one for both admins and users.
We’ve all come across email SPAM, but that is only where the annoyance begins. If you have a blog, a website that takes comments, or even a contact form, then you have probably seen some SPAM there, too. It used to be easy to identify, but spammers are becoming craftier at their game. Learn how you can fight back.
Why people Spam
Before diving into the problem of comment SPAM, I’d like to answer this question: Why do people SPAM? The biggest purpose of comment SPAM is SEO-related. One of the things Google and the others factor into their algorithms is linkbacks. A linkback is any link from an external site back to your website. In many comment forms on blogging platforms there is an option to include a website, which is then linked to your name when you leave a comment. This is a way of telling people who it is that is leaving the comment. Spammers use this opportunity to link to trashy SPAM websites that make pennies per visitor. If they rank higher in the search engines for keywords like “free viagra”, they can drive more traffic and make more pennies. Pennies turn into dollars which turn into Benjamins, and you get the picture. However, this doesn’t work very well for the spammers.
While most of the blogging platforms include comments and do send links, they include a little piece of code that prevents linkbacks. It’s called a “nofollow” link. It tells Google not to count a link as a linkback. Google doesn’t follow the link, so that website isn’t given any benefit. It’s an optional setting, but it is turned on for professional blogs as well as Blogger.com and WordPress.com hosted blogs. We don’t use nofollow links on this blog so that we can pass along benefits to our commenters. However, spammers don’t know that we do this, and they don’t seem to care much either way. Even with nofollow links, the spammers will still attack your site. Now that we know the why, lets look into the “what” of comment SPAM.
What Comment SPAM looks like
Most people can identify the obvious SPAM very quickly. It is riddled with links to ED drugs or other pharmaceuticals, or in some cases it is written in Russian. This kind of SPAM is automated by the spammers and can be caught by filters. The other types of SPAM are much harder to identify. They look more like real comments. Here is an example (the link doesn’t work):
From Investment Ideas: Great Post! I stumble by this blog from Google and your content really speaks to me. You are an expert in your field and this post is proof. I am now subscribing to read more.
At first glance this looks like a very nice comment. It is probably one you would be proud to have at the bottom of your posts. Unfortunately, it is SPAM. The “name” of the commenter is used as a keyword to create a linkback to the URL, which in this case is also about investment ideas. The text sounds very nice, but it would probably sound very nice on any of your posts. These types of comments have a few things in common, and you can become a pro at identifying it and removing it.
How to Identify and Stop SPAM
Unfortunately, this kind of SPAM is not caught by the filters because it looks genuine. In many cases it is even entered by a real person (often overseas). They copy/paste a snippet on many sites as fast as possible. But, you can spot it when moderating your comments. Here is three-item test to identify the tricky SPAM:
The name looks like a description and not really a person’s name. In the example, it is Investment Ideas.
The link goes to a site very similar to the name. It may also include several hyphens, which are sometimes used in spam URLs.
The text of the comment is very generic. It doesn’t reference anything in the post and can probably apply to almost any of your posts.
Those three quick tests can help you to identify most comment SPAM. After reviewing the fake comment above, you will see that it includes all three of the regular pieces of SPAM comments. You may come across some comments that just say “Great Post!”. To determine if these are SPAM you should pay close attention to the name and link. If it is a person’s name and goes to a personal site or blog (like JMO), then it is probably not SPAM.
You will have to use your own discretion when deciding which comments are SPAM on your blog. Comments are great places to have a bit of further discussion about posts. They can add to the “conversation” in many cases, so blocking SPAM is even more important to keep the conversation fluid. While comment SPAM can’t hurt you directly, it can look ugly on your blog.
While some sites have turned off comments all together to prevent this, you may still want to keep comments on your site. Using nofollow links can help prevent the spammers from gaining anything with their garbage, but it will still pile up in the back and can clutter your real comments. Moderating your comments regularly and having a keen eye for SPAM can protect your site from the evils of comment SPAM.
I have decided it to let the SPAM comments show up on this post so you can see some examples of what we get. I will neuter them by removing the link, but the text and name of the commenter will be left alone (unless it’s profane). Our first winner is “Affiliate Network”.
Many more SPAM comments have rolled in to the mix. I’ve removed links on all of them, but the text gives you an idea of what they may look like on your site.
If you are confused by today’s title then you are no doubt just as confused by some of the tweets you may be reading. Two weeks ago a British furniture store was ousted by the Twitter community for abusing the hashtag feature in twitter. They were caught using including terms from the top trends in their tweets when they had nothing to do with the subject. The furniture store has since apologized (and blamed an intern), but the damage has already been done. They may not repeat this act, but unfortunately many folks on twitter will.
New forms of Twitter spam pop up daily, and while it is fairly easy to filter out Viagra-hocking followers and ladies of the night, filtering out Twitter’s search feature is more difficult. Now that search is readily available in the sidebar on twitter.com, many users seem to think it fit to include one or many of the trending topics in with their tweets about chilling with their homies. These users are likely suffering from a bit of ignorance with regard to twitter etiquette because they see everyone else doing it. If you happen to be one of these people, you are now in the know thattacking on twitter trends to you tweets is not OK, so quit doing it. Even worse are twitter users who’s tweets consist of listing the current trending topics. Oh how much I would pay for a Ban button to block these buffoons from blasting more bad tweets.
The bigger problems with twitter trend spam are the formulaic spammers. For instance, the $2,612 scam is one of the most annoying. The tweets start with a trending topic and even the word ‘trend?’. Then, they are followed by a ridiculous fake new stories like bombs going off in NYC or Egypt, new virus outbreaks killing 3000, or anyone actually buying twitter (none of which are even remotely true). Then the tweet is followed by text along the lines of “earned $2,612 thanks to this to this” with a tiny.cc link to more web spam. This is disgusting and pretty evil at its core and will hopefully be shutdown soon by the twittergods.
As a twitter user and someone who works in the search business, I tend to use twitter search quite a bit. Many of the spammy aspects of twitter can be frustrating, and they force you do make some changes to get the results you are looking for. Here are a few changes I have made.
Narrowing the search – on Mondays, #musicmonday is almost always on the top trends. I like to use it to find bands similar to ones I already like, so I search “#musicmonday wilco” to discover related bands.
Getting creative – instead of being lazy and clicking the link to the trending topic in the sidebar, I can search for something more specific, like “Roddick 3rd set” instead of “Wimbledon“.
Look for Re-tweets – Another trick I use is to add RT or via to my searches. This lets me crowdsource the task of finding the things that real people want to point out. When I find a good nugget of info, I like to re-tweet it as well to spread the news.
There is one more action I have learned that has really taught me to use twitter as the service as it was intended: to connect with people. For instance, yesterday the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum (#pdf09) was a very popular subject on twitter, and was trending quite high for most of the day. By clicking on the link to the trend in the sidebar, I was brought to a sea of tweets with great content right next to dirty, dirty spammers. Relying on search alone would have been very difficult in my quest for useful information on a popular subject, so I decided to follow some new people. I added Clay Shirky (@cshirky) and Alex Steed (@alexsteed) to my followers and then I was able to track PDF09 from the comfort of my own home (twitter.com/home that is). And after the Forum, I am free to un-follow them if their other tweets are not something I am interested in.
The bottom line is that searching twitter for very popular subjects is a bit broken. The good news, though, is it forces you to be creative and follow new people to gain the valuable information you are seeking. Thanks to this you may discover a new favorite twitter-friend. So, the next time you are searching twitter for trending tweets, look for the good stuff, Re-tweet it, and never tack on trends to a tweet that isn’t about them.
Finally, I must add that using hashtags properly is a great asset to twitter, so please DO use them whenever you are joining the conversation. And for those of you that like to tag ridiculousthings, that’s perfectly fine too.