How To Fight The Facebook Spam Monster
As social media gains in popularity, spammers do of course follow. The latest trend is an army of fake Facebook profiles posting spam links on Facebook pages.
Facebook page spam is nothing new, but this latest, large scale effort has been consistently hitting tons of pages. Facebook has not dealt with it and this specific attack has been going on for a month. Many pages might now even know they are being affected yet, especially if they are not monitoring fan posts to their Facebook wall on a daily basis.
If you have a Facebook page for your business you really must commit to monitoring what gets posted to the wall on a regular basis. If spam begins to takeover (like the examples below), the trust level of your business will be affected.
So let’s take a look at how to identify and deal with this specific round of Facebook page spam and hope that Facebook get’s around to creating a better system for dealing with this spam more permanently.
Identifying The Problem
Here are the commonalities we have seen so far.
- This spam almost always is focused on the successes of working from home.
- It usually includes an image of a person, a check, dollar amounts or some similar images related to working from home
- The accounts posting the spam are pretty bare profiles, few friends if any, sometimes no profile image, little personal information shared.
- The names on these accounts are typically a non-English name such as Navid Karimipour, Boni Camacho, and Yasser Dahyan as a few examples. Some are even Chinese characters.
- The URL they are trying to get you to click on is generic news site, some examples include (Do not go to these websites, we cannot speak to their safety) onthe7news-info.com or hotonlinenews-site.com.
Who Is Being Affected
Pages of all sizes have been affected, so do not assume your page is too large or too small to be impacted. As an initial experiment, I went through 50 pages I like and found 58% of them had them had these same “work from home” spam messages on their wall. Hardly a scientific look, but this quick research showed me that a broad range of pages that have been affected, from massive consumer brands to small businesses to a major publication with over a million fans.
Pages that only show that page’s updates as the default wall view seem to be just as commonly effected.
The Scary Part
I cannot speak to how dangerous these links might be. Whether they are a large effort to really rope people into some genuine work from home business, whether it is a scam, or whether these sites are actually dangerous for users to visit. But with most spam, there is usually money being made somewhere, either by selling a product or by infecting computers with malware. Either way it is not good.
Also, Facebook is either deciding not to act or unable to currently prevent this type of spam. The earliest examples of this specific escalated Facebook spam date back one month to early August. And yet, the fake accounts from over a month ago are still active.
Ultimately Facebook is doing a horrible job at protecting it’s Pages users from these annoyances and for now it is up to page admins to combat the issue. Here are 3 steps for eliminating existing spam and dealing with it going forward.
1. Flag Spam
Step one is to flag each spam item. If you just delete spam, you are stopping Facebook from getting more information about the issue AND allowing the offending account to continue to post to your page’s wall.
2. Report Spammer
After flagging spam on Facebook, you then have two options from Facebook, “unflag” or “report” (see above). Reporting the offending account will allow you to suggest to Facebook they are a spammer and block them from access to your page in the future. One thing to consider here is figuring out if the offending profile is a real fan whose account has been taken over or whether the profile is fake and purely exists to post spam. All of the accounts that we have seen posting spam that fits the above profile have been easily labeled as fake accounts.
Here are a few signs that they are likely a spammer and not a hijacked account.
- If their name is non English and your page is an English business
- If they have no profile picture
- If their profile is very sparse with no information
- If they have very few friends and like many pages
- If they do not fit the demographic of your business
Reporting the spam will allow you to give Facebook more information, by actually identifying it as spam, and you will be able to block the person from posting again in the future to your page. Make sure both options are selected.
3. Creating A Plan To Deal With The Spam
Most of the spam is being posted in the mornings and early at that. A quick review of all the examples we found saw spam being posted anywhere from 2am to 3pm EST. So if your page is only checked once a day or once a week, these spam messages are getting lots of airtime. More of the spam is being posted on Monday and Tuesday than the rest of the week.
Make sure you are checking your Facebook page 2-3 times a day and flagging/reporting the spam at that time.
If you cannot check your page that often, but want to limit or eliminate the potential for spam to impact your Facebook fans, then look to your wall settings. A few suggested options in increasing order of severity:
- Set your default wall view to “Only Post by Page”. Keep in mind spam will still post and be viewable when fans click through to see comments from fans
- Set your “Permissions” so that fans cannot post links. Since all the spam seems to be link related this should eliminate spam completely
- If you really want to baton down the hatches, then changes your “Permissions” settings so that fans cannot post to the wall at all.
Not all of these methods for dealing with the spam are great options. And until Facebook deals with the issue are definitely restricting the Facebook Page platform by either taking up your time or limiting fan access.
If you have further suggestions for how to deal with the increasing trend of Facebook Page spam, please let us know in the comments.