Everyone has different kinds of friends. Work pals, sorority sisters, roommates, golf friends. Each plays a different role in our lives and some of the recent changes both in Facebook and Google+ reflect that – the notion of sharing different things with different audiences.
Lately I’ve found I have an entirely new class of friends: spam buddies, and today’s topic is a cross between venting and asking you all how we might combat this. I’m also of the opinion that it’s going to get worse based on the changes we’re seeing in Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. But let’s see what you think.
Let’s start right here on this blog. According to my stats, I get between 250 and 300 spam comments for every real comment. Of late, these have become a lot more creative as they try to be “real” people – longer, more conversational comments with commercial links. They’re pretty easy to spot, of course, but that’s a lot of clutter that obscures the good stuff for me.
Then there’s LinkedIn. Almost every group I’ve joined has been overrun by spam buddies – real people who join groups and push some product or service – sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly. Those are pretty easy to ignore – turn off the group emails – but it’s painful to get value out of almost any group anymore when there are dozens of spam threads hiding the real ones. What’s become harder to ignore, all of a sudden, are the linking invitations coming from India, Korea, and elsewhere. People who claim to be “a friend” and who have zero or a handful of connections wanting to link into your profile, probably to do data mining and more spamming. Less obvious, more insidious, and as fast as I can “report spam” I get a few more.
Obviously, the same thing has been an issue on Twitter almost from the start. The fakes are easy to spot – they have no profile picture or one of someone attractive. They follow hundreds or thousands of people and have a dozen followers themselves (mostly folks who auto-follow back). They tweet like clockwork – every 20 minutes some new get rich quick method. Painful.
My concern is this: of late, much of what we publish on Facebook and Google+ can make us more visible to unintended audiences. With more information showing up in our data streams (which I’m still trying to figure out), how long will it be before those streams, much like the main Twitter stream, are rendered useless and we need to parse everything into subgroups to get anything useful at all? That may be the intention but it’s much less user-friendly.
I like socializing (more in person than digitally) with my different groups of friends. Unfortunately, I have this other group of “buddies” I just can’t seem to force to leave the party.
How do you deal with this? Do you think it’s s threat to social networks of all types?