When an unknown person “friends” you on Facebook, do you accept their virtual friendship, without knowing who they are? For the past month, every day I’ve received about 5 new friend requests on Facebook from spammers. What’s disturbing is that many of them are friends of my real-world friends. Corporations and sponsoring organizations are ever-increasing the pressure they put on employees, sponsored athletes, independent filmmakers, freelance writers, and content producers to garner as many “friends” and followers as possible in social media. This encouragement to use social media as a platform to reach a broader audience means that spammers are easily getting in the door, and posting their unwanted advertising for more unwanted plastic crap. Or worse yet, they’re identity thieves looking for your financial information. The irony is that this corporate push for employees to have a big social media footprint allows scammers to push the very products that are in competition with the corporations my inadvertent spam-supporting friends work for. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Let’s do our best to make sure we’re only friending real people who have real profiles. I’ve seen athletes and aspiring public figures approaching the coveted 5,000 friends mark, yet at least a third of those so-called friends are spammers. In a culture that already has too much commercialization in our everyday lives, couldn’t we be more proactive in reporting the scammers and saying “no” to their friend requests, which only serve to boost their ability to spam unwanted advertising all over Facebook and other social media platforms?
Here are a few examples of my prospective “friends” that are sitting in my friend request queue this week. Meet Liam:
As you can see, Liam loves Oakley sunglasses. But more importantly, you’ll see he’s friends with 7 of my very real friends. Note, too, that he doesn’t have a cover photo.
And here’s Mark:
Mark with no cover photo only has 13 friends, and his understanding of his gender is all confused. You can see he/she updated her/his profile photo on January 28th.
Alina, too, is unclear whether she’s a he. If I want to see posts on Alina’s timeline, Facebook tells me I’ll have to accept his friend request.
And then there’s the very attractive Detweiler Roy Robert. He, too, just opened his Facebook account and quickly replaced his male mug with these attractive images of porn star, Kelsey Hess. (I only know that because I did a Google Image search of this cover photo and found several articles about spammers stealing her photos.)
It’s no surprise that 97% of Detweiler’s 45 friends are male, and that he has joined some of the largest Facebook groups around (with over 8,000 and 9,000 members.)
If you’d like to know how to identify a scammer, like Detweiler, on Facebook, here are some quick tips I’ve received from admins who regularly monitor groups with large numbers of members:
How to Identify Spammers:
1) Very little normal social networking activity.
2) New account.
3) Often there’s a lack of a cover photo (the long banner photo at the top of a personal Facebook account.)
4) Large number of Group memberships. Spammers typically are members of 100’s of groups all which have high membership like a thousand or more members. They also tend to be members of groups that start with the same letter of the alphabet and bear no relation to one another. They use apps to quickly join those groups. Our Buy Nothing local gift economies are increasingly getting requests to join from such scammers.
5) Fake profile picture, (for example, a pretty young female.) Simply do a Google Image search of their cover image or profile photo. Spammers steal photos from catalogues and other websites.
6) Gender confusion. Name is female but the pronoun associated with it is male and vice versa.
How to Report a Spammer:
Go to their account and report the account. Or, hit “Delete Request” and then hit the button “Mark as Spam.”
What are typical Spammers Spamming?
1) Sunglasses – often with a pretty young woman profile picture, the account usually belongs to a male. You’ll find many are from Asian locations, but lately there have been more African spammers.
2) Shoe sellers – Similar to Sunglass sellers.
3) Low airfare sellers.
4) Money lenders – Often 45-55 year old man profiles, from Begium/France etc., wanting to “help end poverty” and such with easy to get low interest loans. These scammers are known to steal personal/financial information.
This last category of scammers is of most concern. Let’s do our best to report spammers to Facebook. They manually review every report. And if you don’t mind, and you’re a Facebook friend of mine, can I let you know when I’ve received a friend request from one of your fake lovelies? I’d welcome it if you did the same for me.