I run the Facebook group for Cardiff Start. We now have 900+ group members, which means we attract quite a few spammers looking to use our, erm, “social reach” for their own dirty needs.
I’ve got pretty good at spotting the spam accounts now, and quickly dispatch them into the Ignore pile. Although, in fairness, it’s usually not that difficult. They are almost always automatically created accounts that tend to follow a few basic rules, so it doesn’t take a huge brain to weed them out. But here’s my handy guide anyway:
- First of all, they’re most likely to have assigned themselves a different gender to the one that their profile pic may suggest. This isn’t a case of them being a legitimate member of the transgender community. This is a case of them uploading a picture of a (usually hot) girl, but not actually changing the default male gender on a new FB account.
- On that note – are they devastatingly attractive, with an apparent ability to take studio quality photos of themselves? Yeah, in which case they’re a bot.
- Do they have an astonishingly small amount of friends (less than 100, usually) for someone that young and attractive? I assume they’re trying not to accrue too many friends too quickly, so as not to trigger Facebook’s spam police. Or maybe they just have a small circle of other co-operative bots that they mutual friend up. Either way – OUT.
- The have a vaguely ridiculous name. “Parkington Fortitude”? Do one.
- Do they like a lot of stuff. Like a LOT. Are they in hundreds of groups? Especially ones that start with “Buy and Sell”. Yep, they’re a spammer.
- Are the groups oddly alphabetical? (e.g. Cardiff Start, Carlisle Buy and Sell, Cartons of Milk…). Surefire spambot.
- They have only been on Facebook a few months – then they’re either your auntie Irene, or they’re a spammer.
- They look like someone has just uploaded a stock photo of the most generic businessman/woman they could find. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone with hair quite that glossy.
Each of these eight points on their own isn’t enough to be 100% sure that you’re dealing with some spam farm somewhere.