Spam messages have been a constant problem for all the social media networks, be it WhatsApp, Facebook, Google or Twitter. These giants are aware of this situation – and have left no stones unturned in the past two years to fight with it. They are making every possible move to forbid the growth of spam on their websites and make the user experience more adorable.
This issue sought attention when the Cambridge Analytica scandal came into the spotlight, where foreign actors had weaponized the social media giant Facebook to spread misinformation and igniting content simply in a hope to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
However, it was not just Facebook alone which was facing the severe spam content issue, but all the reputed technical companies suffered. High-end companies like Twitter and Google were also used to gain the advantage in the elections by the similar sources.
The Efforts to Control the Situation
This was a huge misuse, and it needed some severe action to be taken by these companies publicly to ensure to its user base that their platform was not biased. Facebook is very transparent about the efforts it makes to curb spam content – and lets its users know by releasing a number of statements which focus on news from “trusted sources” and changing its algorithm to focus to friends and family.
The micro-social network, Twitter did not lag behind and took immediate action as well. It released a request for proposals for the motive of getting the “health” of its network studied. Moreover, it focused on fraud account removals. Twitter suspended over 70 million lookalike accounts throughout may and June this year. Besides, it banned the digital currency ads to protect users from being duped.
Google’s owned YouTube made all efforts to add context to the videos streaming on its platform.
The Social Spam: All Efforts In Vain
Look like tremendous efforts – don’t they? The might be – but the users are not noticing them. According to HubSpot’s survey – 47% of the social media reporters are witnessing increased spam in their feeds.
Even after the companies are apparently trying hard to fix the issue, the users see no improvement. In a survey of 542 internet consumers across the US, UK and Canada, the ratio of people seeing less spam whilst scrolling their feed is only 20%. Contradictorily, almost half of the total people surveyed (46.9%) reported increased spam in their feed. Whereas nearly 27% of the people were in a dilemma regarding the situation.
What is a social spam, exactly? Different mouths say different words. In the words of Facebook, spam is “contacting people with unwanted content or requests [like] sending bulk messages, excessively posting links or images to people’s timelines and sending friend requests to people you don’t know personally.”
In the definition, fake news is clearly not counted in spam. However, almost 79% of the total people surveyed agreed on the fake news being spam. Only 7% said No, and again, 14% were confused regarding their say.
People Not Confident of Facebook’s Efforts
In the second survey, consisting of 579 users from the same countries, the efforts were made to measure the public perception of Facebook’s specific efforts to fight election meddling.
The results are not very exciting, as only 28% of the people voted in affirmative, believing that Facebook’s efforts in fighting against the wrong use of its platform during elections will be fruitful. The rest – 36% claimed that the efforts were futile, and the same percentage (36%) being uncertain in this matter.
Facebook has accepted that, initially, it was slow to curb such attacks, but now the platform, along with its peers, have developed artificial intelligence (AI) powered systems that can identify and flag this type of behaviour quicker than human intervention can. However, AI is also quite often misunderstood, hence only time can tell if the heavily AI-dependent activities can actually lead to success.
All in all, it is great to see that people are getting a lot more aware regarding these matters, but as for the spam in our feeds – it won’t go away so easily!