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Senior Editor

Social media spam on the rise, says study

Sep 24, 20132 mins
Application SecurityCybercrimeData and Information Security

Social media spam is showing no signs of slowing down, according to Nexgate’s recent State of Social Media Spam Report. The growing trend is proving to be an attractive angle for spammers; Facebook spamming alone has generated roughly $200 million, with spammers often hitting at least 23 different social media accounts at a time.

Nexgate found that social media spam has increased 355 percent since the start of this year, confirming that it’s a growing problem. The proliferation is undoubtedly helped by spammy applications, which the report indicated were the leading cause of distributing social media spam. Research showed that 5 percent of all social apps could be classified as spammy, including social bots, fake accounts, and “like”-jackers.

With the growing presence of social media spam, it seems that users cant help but come across it in some form or another eventually; 1 in 21 social media messages across major platforms - including Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter - contain what Nexgate classifies as “risky content.” This includes adult language, hate speech, private or regulated data, or spam.

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Perhaps more serious, however, is that 1 in 200 social media messages contain spam that can prove to be much more dangerous. Aside from lures to adult content, many of these messages can also contain malware. Similarly, 15 percent of all social media spam (in messages or otherwise) contains a URL that points to a potentially dangerous source.

While these threats pose a problem for the end user, they are arguably a greater issue for brands that opt to invest in social media -- not a small market, given that social media advertising in 2013 is expected to hit $7 billion. The prevalence of spam could not only result in the exploitation of the target audience, in the long run it could divert or dilute the brand’s ROI when it unknowingly hosts spammers’ ads and eventually compromise brand trust.

For more information on social media spamming threats, be sure to have a look at Nexgate’s full report, found here.