Stop Friending Spammers

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, or fake news spreaders, doing all they can to alter reality.

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 fifth 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?

*Go through your friends list and be sure the people you’re friends with are real people.

*Spammers often don’t bother to put a banner photo on their page.

*Spammers often have a male or female profile photo but their gender is marked as the opposite. This is a sure sign of a spammer.

*You’ll see pretty pictures of girls in their profile pictures.

*Hit the message button, and you’ll see what groups they’re in and your mutual connections. If you know this person is a spammer, take an extra step and let your mutual friends know he/she is a spammer, too.

*If a spammer is trying to friend you, you can friend them and then look at their profile for a few minutes to determine if you really want to be their friend. If not, unfriend them. And, if you think they’re a spammer, when you decline their friendship, there’s an option to mark them as spam. Do the right thing and call them out. Facebook will thank you.

Here are a few examples of my prospective “friends” that are sitting in my friend request queue this week. Meet Liam:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.48.46 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.53.41 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.56.11 PM

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.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.57.17 PM

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 further pro 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.



5 thoughts on “Stop Friending Spammers

  1. I got fed-up of all the targeted advertising and lack of real privacy for my personal photos and left FB 3 years ago. Unfortunately, I also lost contact with quite a few younger members of the family who only know how to communicate via social media, but I immediately felt better for leaving. There is a lot of pressure to join FB, ironically on Twitter, where a lot of groups/companies only offer competition prizes or special discounts on FB, or hold Support or Special Interest Groups on there. So far I have resisted, but it’s a test.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re the better person, Chris! I hate to admit it, but the most convenient way people know about my blog has been through my personal Facebook friends. I post about my writings on my personal account, and my friends sometimes have a look. Otherwise, I don’t think anyone would know about it, but for the handful of people I’ve met through WordPress. I’m woefully confused about Twitter (it depresses me) and am likely missing out on other social media means of getting the word out. But Facebook has been a useful platform as we strive to create community through our personal accounts and the groups we join. I admit, it’s the very platform we use for The Buy Nothing Project, so I admin some 1300 groups and work with over 1700 volunteers and 285,000 members, all through Facebook groups, pages, and private messages. It’s a powerful tool, when used mindfully, and the reason why I’m on a mission to educate people about the scammers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It took a few months to get to grips with Twitter, but I really like it. Initially I just had a private account and observed from the sidelines. But that was boring! I had begun juicing and so started following some of the better known juicers and immediately became part of a supportive and informed group who were fun and knowledgeable. I am also into professional cycling and I became a cycling groupie, following the professional teams and individuals I supported. They are fun too. I think because I restrict my follows and interests and don’t jump into controversial discussions I have a more positive experience. Yes, I get the odd weirdos who follow for a week, if they make any unwonted comment or ad I mute or block them, otherwise they just fade away. I jabe 2 accounts, one for the health/juicing/ cycling topics and one for social issues and politics. I think it helps to separate diverse interests then your followers don’t get confused or drawn into things they didn’t sign up for. It also helps you keep loyal followers because they know what to expect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Facebook (And twitter also) is actually also a part of the problem.

    Twitter has been used as an advertising platform for years. Do you get wild people subbing to you on twitter and then unfollowing you maybe a day later? Or just doing an @reply if it picks up on a keyword search.
    There was a great one a while ago… @Minions would follow anyone who used the word ‘Minion’. I call my daughter ‘The minion’ all the time and it would autofollow me about once a week. Grrr! >.>

    On facebook a lot of these dud accounts are actually also ’employed’ by facebook to ‘like’ your page when you pay for expanded viewership.
    Veritasium (On YouTube) did some research on this 2 years ago… And it’s only gotten worse since.

    I have left FB twice now. And yet I am back. I don’t use it often and the only way I use it now is, one… With a fake name, and two with a page made for my blog. I only have about 8 friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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