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Spot a Facebook spammer before letting them in a Group

Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is trying to join your group or friend you to spam, but these days, spammers are tricky, so here are some tips for spotting them so you don’t have to waste time researching them!

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Spotting a Facebook spammer with little effort

So you have a Facebook Group and you’re building your inner circle. You may have 100 people in the group or 10,000, but as a Group administrator, you’re responsible for keeping the group free of spammers not only because all Group updates go to each member’s notification bar (which can get noisy), but because a spammer may infiltrate your group and post a link to Nikes for sale, but uh oh, those aren’t Nikes, that’s a phishing scam and your Group members’ computers/smartphones are now infected. Yikes.

It’s not always that dramatic, sometimes it’s just noise, but without having to do tons of research or getting a B.A. in Spam Spotting, here are some tips for spotting the bad guys in a crowd.

12 tips for spotting a spammer

Remember that these are simply tips, and some of these are true for legitimate accounts, so use your best judgment before not allowing people in or kicking them out:

1. If someone is underage or super hot and their profile picture or cover photo is of a celebrity, they’re probably spam.

2. If you go to their page and they have five followers but have joined 500 groups, they’re probably spam.

3. If their profile and all visible updates are in a language you don’t understand, but they’re trying to join your Neurological Professionals’ Association group, they’re probably spam.

4. If their job title doesn’t match their photo, and they’re a 18 year old stating they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, they’re probably spam.

5. If they don’t have any friends in common with you and it doesn’t say they have any friends in the group, that sends up a red flag. That’s not a guarantee of spam, of course, but requires paying closer attention.

6. If someone’s cover photo is about weight loss pills or something you wouldn’t want sold in your group, to you, they’re probably spam.

7. If it is a woman whose profile is visible enough to see that she prefers both men and women, but there’s no professional information listed, they’re probably spam.

8. If they say they went to “the Universty of Arkansaw,” they’re either stupid or spam. Mispelled school names are often a tip-off that they’re probably spam.

9. If someone is too hot to be alive and/or is wearing a bikini, they’re probably spam. Not always, but probably.

10. If they’re brand new to Facebook, but they’ve managed to find your obscure group or Page, they’re probably spam.

11. If you can see their status updates and they’re all links to fake Oakleys or “real” Louis Vuitahn bags, they’re probably spam.

12. If their name is ridiculous like Jiant Johnson, they might be spam.

Dig deep? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat

Some will tell you to dig deep, but if your group is gaining in popularity, you may not have hours a day to research (I mean really, who has time to search Google Images for a profile picture to see if it is a commonly stolen image of a stock photo or foreign model? Nobody).

If someone posts a link that is obviously spam, we recommend a heavy handed approach – on the upper right of their post is a tiny grey arrow, so click it and remove the post while banning the user. Add to the “About” page what your policies are so there is no confusion or complaining.

Commit these 11 tips to memory and learn from years of our learning the hard way what may or may not be spam. With that you’ll keep members of your group in tact and they won’t jump ship because you allowed spam in the group.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Bruce

    February 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I have no problem spotting spammer profiles before they can spam my groups. My question is: what report category do I use to report them to fb so they can shut them down? I’ve tried reporting them as representing a business or as a fake account but apparently fb can’t spot them as well as I can even when I drop them in their lap! All but 1of the last 10 or so that I have reported have come back as “Profile not removed”.

    Facebook “help” is completely useless when it comes to this. I’m not about to admit them to my groups, wait until they post their sunglasses spam, and THEN report them!

    Surely there is some software code that could be written to look for the common characteristics that these profiles have.

    And/or, request the help of the group Admin people all over the globe! Help us to help fb get rid of them. We’re doing the work to identify them anyway! Gives us a proper code to identify them and save us work in the future.

    … Bruce

  2. Greg Bard

    July 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    If they have signed up for only 10 groups that are all alphabetically sequential to your group, then the are pretty much definitely spam.

    • Lani Rosales

      July 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

      GREAT point, Greg. And we're finding that they put the appropriate city in their profile as they sign up for groups in that city, then ultimately move on to the next city in the alphabet (as does their profile info). Blech.

  3. Sarah

    July 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I have a pressure cooker recipe group I started, and a member is telling me that some relevant posts are spam? How are they spam if they are just recipes, and not selling anything, but maybe promoting their blog?

  4. Pingback: Facebook promises to actively fight harder against spam - The American Genius

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Social Media

*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.

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Two girls filming on TikTok.

Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.

  • TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
  • With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
  • TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.

The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.

This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.

Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,

“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”

Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.

For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.

TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.

And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.

Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.

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Social Media

Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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