Devin Kelly | @subbydonut
Facebook can be great place to connect with old friends and new friends alike, but there are some friends you wouldn’t want to make on Facebook, and those would be spammers. Spammers are responsible for creating fake Facebook accounts, or Fakebook accounts, and they’re used for a variety of reasons, such as boosting likes on a fan page, advertising a product, or even hacking accounts.
Spamming has been around since the first recorded instance of a mass unsolicited commercial telegram from May 1864. This tradition of constantly ignored advertisements was passed on as junk mail and then e-mail spam. The origin of this meaning of spam comes from Monty Python’s Spam Sketch, where the word “spam” was constantly repeated. Ever since then, spam has been associated with an annoying stream of messages.
Most recently, Facebook has been a breeding ground for spammers and bot accounts. The idea is that these bot accounts would be created to “friend” and “like” as many people as possible, and to be “friended” and “liked” in return. These accounts are then used to increase the likes on fan pages to give the illusion that there is a high number of people actually viewing these advertisements. As a result of this charade, it is becoming difficult to tell how many actual people are in the audience.
In August 2012, Facebook admitted through its updated regulatory filing that 8.7% of its 955 million active accounts were fake. In an effort to put a stop to this, Facebook has started to crack down on fake accounts. In turn, this has caused a drop in popularity for some pages, such as Texas Hold’Em Poker, which lost 200,000 fans.
Individuals are also gaining better protection from spammers. Whenever someone receives a friend request from another person, they are asked whether they know that person outside of Facebook. If the person answers no, then that friend requester will automatically be blocked. This helps prevent any bot accounts from invading anyone’s friends list.
It looks like Facebook is starting to get on the right track to eliminating all of these fake accounts, but it is too early to think that spam will be gone for good. As long as that there is some medium to send a message, spam will still persist.