A new quarterly index based on data collected by social spam fighter Impermium finds social Web spam and abuse is now posing significant reputation risk and cost to Internet businesses that depend on public user profiles.
"Most companies will be shocked to see how rampant user registration fraud is on their site," says Mark Risher, CEO of Impermium. "Bulk accounts for most popular social networks can now be purchased on the black market for pennies. This type of fraud has many significant ramifications, including a company's ability to accurately value its user base and determine the actual cost of new customer acquisition."
The data comes from the inaugural Impermium Social Spam Index, the industry's first resource for regularly published data on social Web spam and abuse trends. The following trends are based on a 100-consecutive-day sample of the social Web between June and August, conducted by researchers at Impermium Corporation. Impermium analyzed 104 million pieces of user-generated content (UGC) on social networks, blogs and social bookmarking sites from a base of 90 million users spread across 72 countries.
Click through for six malicious social media trends that are affecting online businesses today, as identified in the Impermium Social Spam Index.
Online ID registration fraud: Overstating how many users a site or service really has. Fraudulent accounts ranged from a low of five percent to an astonishing 40 percent on audited sites. The percentage depended on the site, perceived account value to spammers, and ease of account registration.
"Sleeper cells" of social Web abuse are growing fast. One prominent Web company experienced an attack of 30,000 fraudulent new accounts within a single hour. Those accounts then posted 475,000 malicious posts (messages) to legitimate community members.
Social media exploitation techniques are evolving fast. If there is a strong consumer brand or significant news event, it's being exploited on the social Web. For example, social spammers are increasingly using emotionally-charged news to win clicks. The deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Amy Winehouse, among other major stories, deceived users into clicking on malicious links.
UGG was the #1 most exploited brand in social media channels by a factor of 2x over Gucci and 5x over Prada.
Porn got stripped. The top consumer categories for social Web spam were fashion and electronics, which outperformed malicious porn posts by 3x.
Small businesses are getting into social Web spam. Impermium's research found an emerging problem of pitches for small businesses such as local restaurants and airport transportation, which are reacting to the difficult economy by expanding into spam.