Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
Social media is riddled with spam. Up-and-coming networks attract spam as they grow quickly, and older networks have to deal with ever more sophisticated bots. A new report from Networked Insights examines how spam and bots distort the insights brands try to gain from social media.
According to the report, nine percent of all users tweeting in English are non-consumers, and these accounts represented 15 percent of all tweets. Networked Insights defines non-consumers as “social bots, celebrities, brand handles and inactive accounts.”
As a result of this non-consumer content, much of the social data collected by social data scientists is ‘dirty.’ The New York Times reports that data scientists spend 50 to 80 percent of their time just cleaning up data before it can be analyzed. Weeding out the spam and other false data points slows down the process and makes it harder to gain real insights from data sets.
Social spam is defined by Networked Insights as coupon postings, product listings, contests and giveaways, which combined, make up nearly six percent of social posts. Adult content makes up less than three percent of posts, and general spam such as gibberish makes up a little more than one percent.
Different networks have varying levels of social spam. Nearly 30 percent percent of forum posts are social spam, nearly 20 percent of blogs and comments are spam, and more than nine percent of tweets are social spam.
Many brands are overrun by this spam. 95 percent of the conversation around Rite Aid and Elizabeth Arden, 81 percent of the conversation around Visa is social spam. This kind of negative atmosphere could erode trust in these brands.
Very little of this social spam comes from real consumers. 53 percent of the content is generated by social bots, 23 percent comes from verified and brand accounts, and 11 percent comes from accounts that have been suspended, cancelled or disabled by Twitter.
Networked Insights used the food and beverage vertical to analyze the effect of removing spam from the conversation. The clustered data before spam removal showed large focuses on beer, pizza, coffee, cake, and adult content. After all the spam was removed from the conversation — 14 percent of all posts — nuanced conversations began to emerge.
This more nuanced conversation included topics such as vegan eating and ethnic fast food. The implication here is that relying on a dirty data set could in inaccurate audience targeting, and misinterpreting what their audience really cares about.
Dirty data could also impact things like industry benchmarking. For instance, it could be hard to compare two brands operating in the same vertical, but have vast disparity between the amount of spam they receive.
Networked Insights suggests removing spam from your data sets before trying to analyze what consumers are talking about. By doing so, your brand will have a clear understand of your customers’ interests, and the granular conversations could present new opportunities for your business.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
Facebook introduced ThreatExchange last month as a way for tech companies to share information about malware and other security threats, and the social network announced Friday that the application-programming-interface documentation for ThreatExchange, as well as the PHP and Python reference code, are now available on GitHub.
The first thing to understand about the design of ThreatExchange is that it’s a subset of APIs residing within the much larger set of Graph APIs used by third-party developers to programmatically interact with Facebook. Much like any other third-party developer, a ThreatExchange member starts by creating a Facebook platform application and then uses it to query or post threat data into ThreatExchange. Once Facebook grants access to a developer’s application, they interact with ThreatExchange by issuing RESTful API calls to the Facebook platform. This API based approach works well for our current members, all of whom are looking to integrate the data available via ThreatExchange into their existing security systems. ThreatExchange data doesn’t show up, or have any link, to the personal Facebook accounts of the application owners or people who use them.
Another core design component of ThreatExchange is that the data is modeled in what mathematicians and computer scientists commonly call a graph. This design — the same one Facebook uses to represent your Facebook account and connections between friends — lends itself very well to representing real-world interactions between threats like malware, bad domains and spammy URLs.
We will continue using this page to provide details about the design, functionality and new features of ThreatExchange. We are growing the platform slowly at this stage to ensure that it works well for all members, but our long-term goal is that organizations anywhere will be able to use these features of ThreatExchange to share threat information more easily, learn from each other’s discoveries and make everyone’s systems safer.
Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
Facebook threat infrastructure team manager Mark Hammell introduced ThreatExchange in a note on the Protect the Graph page, saying that a malware-based spam attack last year was the impetus behind the initiative, and naming Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Yahoo as early participants, while citing Bitly and Dropbox as more recent additions.
Hammell wrote in the note:
A little over a year ago, a group of technology companies came together to discuss a botnet that was spreading a malware-based spam attack on all of our services. We quickly learned that sharing with one another was key to beating the botnet because parts of it were hosted on our respective services and none of us had the complete picture. During our discussions, it became clear that what we needed was a better model for threat sharing.
Expanding on those conversations, Facebook offered to build what has now become ThreatExchange, an API-based (application-programming interface) platform for security threat information. It was natural for us because our core service is a platform for sharing and because we already had a threat analysis framework called ThreatData that we could build upon. Feedback from our early partners centered on the need for a consistent, reliable platform that could provide flexibility for organizations to be more open or selective about the information they share. As a result, we included a set of privacy controls so that participants can share only with the group or groups they wish.
ThreatExchange is built on the existing Facebook platform infrastructure, and we layered APIs on top of it so that partner companies can query the available threat information and also publish to all or a subset of participating organizations. Threat data is typically freely available information like domain names and malware samples, but for situations where a company might only want to share certain indicators with companies known to be experiencing the same issues, built-in controls make limited sharing easy and help avoid errors by using a pre-defined set of data fields.
We’re grateful to Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo for their early participation and helpful feedback in the development of ThreatExchange, and we’re excited to be welcoming new contributors like Bitly and Dropbox. If you’re interested in participating in our beta of ThreatExchange or have a feed we should consider integrating, please visit threatexchange.fb.com and fill out the form on the final page so that we can contact you as we continue growing the platform.
Our goal is that organizations anywhere will be able to use ThreatExchange to share threat information more easily, learn from each other’s discoveries and make their own systems safer. That’s the beauty of working together on security. When one company gets stronger, so do the rest of us.
Hammell also spoke with TechCrunch, saying:
We volunteered to build an external version based on one we had in-house that would help these other companies share this kind of information with each other or with broader community-based privacy controls we built and they chose to use.
This was purely the serendipity of the graph.
As we are building this platform, we have been pushing the intelligence around this botnet, and proactively blocking the spam.
Readers: How big of an issue have you found spam on Facebook to be?
Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
A new Apple patent application published today (via AppleInsider) details a system for heading off email spam and tracking its source. The tech automates a process many people now use manually, setting up temporary email addresses to be used for web service signups, which can then be thrown away when compromised by a spammy service, and provide clues as to which provider betrayed your trust.
The system would automatically generate disposable email addresses based on the service you want to use it with, and possibly contain an identifier in its construction to let you know where spam is coming from. So, for instance, if you signed up for Service X, the email might be “First.firstname.lastname@example.org.” Managing said email addresses and dealing with cutting off the ones that are subject to spam can be done through web and app graphic user interfaces, as described in the patent, too.
Spam is a problem that only increases the more we use email and the web, and addresses not diligently maintained can quickly become overwhelmed with inbound communications from services not necessarily being responsible with your shared information. Apple may seem like an odd candidate as someone trying to tackle this problem, but the company has iCloud and acts as an email provider as part of that product’s suite of cloud services. It’s in the company’s best interest to minimize spam and help pare down on email address churn – if users can manage to keep one permanent address safe from spammers, they won’t have to change their main contact info frequently, which has benefits in terms of protecting the integrity of iTunes and Apple ID accounts.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
“We’ve heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service. We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue,” Snapchat wrote in a blog post today. However, it said the issue appeared to be unrelated to the user data breach.
That last part addresses worries that, because 4.6 million usernames and associated partial-phone numbers leaked, spammers could be attempting to send spam Snaps to every username they can find. Many people only allow Snaps from friends, but others accept them from anyone with their user name, opting for privacy by obscurity.
CEO Evan Spiegel personally denied the connection in a tweet:
To keep people safe, Snapchat recommends going into the app’s “Who can send me snaps” setting and only allow Snaps from friends you approve.
Snap spam could derail the growth of Snapchat if it goes unchecked. There’s something really exciting about receiving a legitimate Snap, and knowing you have to pay attention when watching because you only get to see it once (or twice thanks to the new Replay feature). But Snap spam erodes this anticipation, and could make users weary of notifications that they’ve received a new ephemeral message.
Snapchat has been aware of the threat for months, as it published a blog post in April called “Snap Spam (Ew.)”. At the time, it said it was working on long-term solutions, but also recommended not accepting Snaps from strangers.
One problem with fighting the spam surge is that there’s no way to currently report spam. You can only block it. That makes it harder for Snapchat to tell whether someone was blocked for sending amateur unwanted Snaps, or for sending serious spam and should have their account shut down.
A rise in Snap spam may be an inevitable growing pain of a social network increasingly becoming a household name. It may have finally passed the threshold of becoming interesting to spammers. Instagram began to endure a similar issue with spam photos and comments, but was in part saved by its acquisition by Facebook. The parent company threw its veteran anti-spam team against the problem and Insta-spam has curtailed.
At the very least, critics may be silenced by Snapchat’s sudden willingness to apologize. Perhaps the flurry of punches from the press finally got to CEO Evan Spiegel. Most people agree that apologizing isn’t a sign of weakness but of respect for users.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
It’s not uncommon to search the Google Play app store and find a number of knock-off or “fake” apps aiming to trick unsuspecting searchers into downloading them over the real thing – especially when the app in question isn’t yet available on Android. But one developer really went out of his or her way over New Year’s to fill the Android app marketplace with a number of rip-offs of big-name startups and other tech companies, including IFTTT, Slideshare, Snapguide, Wolfram Alpha, Fiverr, Upworthy, MySpace, and more.
Many of the apps chosen are still iOS-only, making the matter worse.
Listed under the developer’s very generic name, “Premium App,” the knock-offs sometimes have a “U” following the app’s title, indicating that they’re really just a user’s guide to the service, not the real app. Many, like IFTTT, (which Premium App has ripped off twice – once as “IFTT” instead of “IFTTT” to capitalize on misspellings), are available as paid downloads ranging from $1.36 USD to $2.75 USD.
The apps were released just at the end of December, as the developer was probably hoping to capitalize on a reduced staff handling Google Play app store spam complaints over the holidays. Calling attention to the problem – as we’re doing now – will likely see the apps quickly pulled as Google reacts to the situation. (We reached out to the developer via email, but have not heard back.)
However, the fact that these apps were ever allowed in the first place – for nearly a week in some cases (at least, so far) – highlights a still ongoing problem with the Google Play review process…or rather, the lack of one. This issue has been happening for some time, too, and it’s concerning given that malware is often served up by the faked versions of popular apps. Now, whenever I’m searching for an Android app, I notice I’m always giving it a second look to make sure that I’m not being fooled. Mainstream, less savvy users are probably not as careful, which means they’re the ones getting burned.
As one confused user writes under the fake IFTT app, “Did this app really just come out today? Dec 30,2013?? The day I downloaded it? Seems unlikely. It said 2011 a minute ago. Is this app just a browser?“
But as Google explains in its Developer Distribution agreement, the company “does not undertake an obligation to monitor the Products or their content.” (Products, meaning apps.) Instead, Google may remove apps from the store when problems are brought to its attention. That means legitimate developers, in addition to their very many other tasks, have to keep an eye on Google Play to make sure no one is trying to rip them off, and then submit complaints when someone does. At times, Google will also run a massive cleanup of its app store, dealing with the situation in one fell swoop, as opposed to carefully reviewing apps one-by-one.
It’s not like Google doesn’t have staff paying attention to its app store in a more proactive manner. After all, the company was fairly quick to eject the CyanogenMod installer app, which allows users to completely modify standard Android, plus add new features. But unlike modding, fake apps aren’t an immediate threat to Google’s monetization and control over Android like CyanogenMod is, they’re only a threat to the end user’s experience, security, privacy, and…hey, wait…isn’t that enough to warrant more attention, Google?
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
As I approach the half-way mark of my crowdfunding project, I wanted to address the thing that makes me feel the worst about this whole process: the spam. As I intimated in in my last post, moving from passive content producer to active content salesperson is hard. As someone used to fire-and-forget posting, convincing others to buy something I’ve built is a hard thing to do. And the best way to do it, sadly, is through spam.
I pride myself on trying to be a nice guy. I post crowdfunding projects on TC all the time because I think they’re cool and I tend to use social media to either make dumb jokes or talk about projects I’ve seen. Now, however, I have to use social media as a sales tool. I contact the vast majority of my Facebook friends directly, have retweeted comments about the book, and even resorted to contacting my LinkedIn and Google+ contacts although I barely use those services. How did I get the most traction, however?
Take a look at the image above. Aside from a massive Facebook push around Christmas each of those spikes were driven by an email blast sent out on or around that date. Emails took a few days to appear as pledges but after each email I was able to push the total up by at least $1,000. Even given the horrible click rates, those are very compelling numbers.
Now, to be clear, I don’t think it was just the email. These lists consist of people who have signed up for my various projects and folks I’ve met in my travels. They know me and many have the ulterior motive of staying friendly with a TC editor. Would I have the same results of I were some dude selling penis pills online? I sincerely doubt it. However, I could see this working if the email list were in the millions and not in the thousands.
In short, direct contact works best. As one crowdfunder told me “When someone gets an email from you they can do one of two things: ignore it and feel bad/indifferent or act on it.” In my case I was lucky that so many acted on it.
Again, I’ve been consistently amazed how little Twitter and Facebook – aside from direct messages – have contributed to the process. While these tweets and twoots are great for getting the word out – I’m not ungrateful by any means – the actual conversion is limited. Broadcasting “Buy This!” is far less effective than saying “Hey, friend, buy this.”
Do I feel bad about this spam? Well, I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum and now that I’m well past my original $8,000 goal I feel bad for continuing to market. But, in the end, this is a project I love and feel deserves to do well. What would I change in the future? I’d create some sort of system so I don’t re-target backers who have already helped out – that’s something that really upset me and I’ve received two emails from friends about it. Essentially I haven’t found any system for truly segmenting out who I contact although I’m sure solutions exist (and feel free to let me know if you have one).
Still I’m amazed at the reach and power at good old email. It sucks, but it’s true: spam works and it works well. In the end, a nice message, carefully wrought, results in far less blowback than a wonky diet pill email, but the process is the same. Like it or not, direct email is a crowdfunder’s best friend.
This is part of a series on crowdfunding, The Mytro Project. For future posts I’m looking for more input from online analysts and other crowdfunding platforms so please email me at email@example.com.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest book is “Choose Yourself!” (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter). Follow James on Twitter @jaltucher.
I’ve never read a book on sales. They seemed corny. Like many people, I always looked down on the concept of “selling.” It seemed like something lower than me.
To some extent, selling appears manipulative. You have a product where you give the perception it has more value than it has in reality. So you need to manipulate people to buy it. This seems sad, as in “Death of a Salesman” sort of sad.
I was a salesman snob.
I was wrong. And for the past 25 years all I have been doing is selling. Selling products, selling services, selling businesses, selling myself.
Sometimes I have been manipulative. And sometimes I’ve sold things I’ve had such passion for I sold it cheap just because I wanted the message out about what I was selling.
And often, it was very much in the middle: I needed to sell something because I had to pay my bills. Maybe I was a little desperate, a little hopeful, a little scared, and I wanted to make sure my family got fed.
We live in a hard world where our basic needs cost money, and as we get older we become responsible for the basic needs of others. We become adults.
Adults sell for today. Professionals sell for life.
So here are the rules of this cheat sheet: None of this comes from a book. All of this is from my own experience. Which means it might not work for you. Which means it might go counter to the basic rules of salesmanship. I have no idea.
I downloaded a book by Og Mandino and by Zig Ziglar but I didn’t read them. Maybe I should.
But I can say that over the past 25 years I’ve sold hundreds of millions of dollars of stuff. That stuff being everything in Pandora’s box that I had to sell just to stay alive. When I think what worked for me, here’s what I come up with:
Nobody is going to buy from someone they hate. The buyer has to like you and want to be your friend. People pay for friendship.
This sounds sort of whoreish, and it is. The times when I’ve hated myself the most were the times when I’ve prostituted myself to make money (this isn’t as sexual as it sounds but it might as well be).
One time when I was raising money for something, the buyer was going through a business catastrophe and was worried he would go out of business. I didn’t like him but I called him every day for three months at the same time to see if he “wanted to talk” and to offer my advice on how he should deal with his situation.
I eventually raised a lot of money from him even though the first time I met him he was honest with me and said, “it seems like you don’t know your industry very well.”
Which just goes to show: friendship outweighs almost every other factor in selling. One time I wanted to do a website for ABC.com. How did I do it? The main decision maker was involved with a school in Harlem for charity. I went up there for four weeks in a row and played 20 kids simultaneously in chess. Everyone had fun. I got the website job. My competitors were all bigger, better financed, and probably better.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like either of those people personally. And eventually, I lost the business.
The only good outcomes come when both sides like each other.
At one point I was so sick of my new “friendships” I went to see a therapist with the clichéd line, “I don’t even know who I am anymore because I hate all my friends and all my friends are customers so I’m their slave friend.”
Now I only do business with people I like. The fastest way to lose all your money, mutilate your heart, and then kill yourself is to work with people you don’t like. I will never do that again.
Nor do you have to, despite what you might think.
If someone wants to do a big deal with you it’s hard to say “no.” But No is valuable for many reasons:
Opportunity cost. Instead of pursuing something you really don’t want to do, you could free up time and energy to find something more lucrative or something you would enjoy more. Opportunity cost is the one BIGGEST cost in all of our lives. We spend it like there’s no tomorrow.
And guess what? Eventually there’s no tomorrow.
Supply and demand. If you reduce the supply of you (through “No”) then the demand for you goes up and you make more money (and have more fun).
You’ll hate yourself. I see this every day, particularly in my own life. The reason I can write about this is not because I’m an expert. We don’t write about the things we KNOW. We right about the things that are deep down CHALLENGES for us right now. When I say “yes” to something I don’t want to do, I end up hating myself, hating the person I said “yes” to, doing a bad job, and disappointing everyone. I try try try not to do it anymore.
(source: Palookaville by Seth)
If someone pays $100 and you give them just $100 in value then you just failed. F.A.I.L.E.D.
You’ll never sell to that person again. That’s fine in some situations, but in most situations it’s no good. If someone pays $100, you need to give them $110 worth of value.
Think of that extra $10 as going into some sort of karmic bank account that pays interest (as opposed to a U.S. bank account). That money grows and compounds. Eventually, there’s real wealth there. And that wealth translates into wealth in the real world.
People are three-year-olds. They like to get presents.
People want to do business with people who give them presents. Over-delivering is a present. And it makes you feel good. Give and you will receive.
This statement, which everyone knows, is usually applied incorrectly.
People think it means, keep pushing and trying new things until you get a “yes.” That’s not what it means. If you do that, you end up in the spam box. Then you end up in the coffin box. In other words, you end up dead to the person you are trying to sell to.
Instead, remember point A. Be a friend. However flimsy that connection of friendship is. Follow on Twitter, follow on Facebook. Say nice things about the person to other people. Never gossip.
Do the art of the “check in.”
Send updates after the “No” on how you are doing, on how the product or service or business or whatever is doing. Not every day. Maybe once a month. Maybe once a year. Who knows. Eventually you will find the “yes” with that person. It could be, and often is, up to 20 years later.
Who knows? You plant a seed and eventually the garden blooms.
I once wanted to do the website for Fine Line Films. I loved their movies. I met the guy running their site. He kept saying over and over again, “we can’t afford a lot” and I kept saying, “don’t worry about it” and would show him more and more of our work.
Eventually we did the websites for every one of their movies. $1,000 per website. We made amazing websites for $1,000. Then, when Con Edison wanted to hire us, Nevin at Fine Line was a reference. Price for coned.com (a basic four-page website): $250,000. And that was the first of five websites we did for them plus monthly maintenance.
I write for a lot of places right now for free. Any medium I love, I am willing to write for. It’s like a dream come true for me. The benefits from doing that have been incalculable. Not always financial, but always real.
We are a combination of many constituencies inside of our bodies and minds. Financial is just one. But all of our constituencies need to work together to make us well-balanced and peaceful.
The art of selling, for me, is to have everything inside of me working together.
One time I wanted to buy a company. The details of how I would do that are sort of obscure and not important. The company is well-known in the financial media space.
At the critical moment, the owner called me and said, “what should I do? I have this other offer and I have your offer.” He described the other offer to me. I told him to take it.
I missed out on what could have been a lot of money to me. But there was a slight chance we would have all gone bust. Now he is thriving and eight years later he is a friend.
Will we ever do business together? I can’t predict the future. But I know I delivered value to another human being. That value is real and I can put it to use whenever I want.
Often the best way to make friends and customers for life is to direct them to a better service or product than yours.
Be the source of valuable information rather than the source of your “product-of-the-day.” Then they will know forever that you are a trusted source.
Trust is worth more than next month’s rent being paid. Trust builds a bridge that will never wear out. At some point in the distant future, when you are on the run in every other way, you may need to cross that bridge.
Your offering is not your product. Your offering is product, services, your employees, your experiences, your ideas, your other customers, and even (as mentioned above) your competitors. Sell them all.
When you are good at what you do, the product or service you offer is just the way people build the first link to you. It’s the top of a huge pyramid.
But the base of the pyramid, the real service, is when they have access to you and you can provide advice and the full power of your network and experience. This is when you are over-delivering on steroids and how real wealth is built and not just a one-time fee for a service or product.
Many people say, “no! My product is high margin and I want to make money when I sleep.”
Stop going to BS entrepreneur, get-rich conferences. In the long run nobody cares about your product. In the long run, it is the entire holistic view of your offering, your service, you, that you are selling. Without that, you will build a mediocre business that may or may not pay the bills. With that, you will create wealth.
People can see what your product is right now. What they want to know is…the future. Will your product make them more money? Will it get them a promotion? Maybe even: will YOU hire them if they buy your product.
Everything is possible. When you get in the door, do not sell your product. People make a decision on your product in five seconds. Sell the dream. The dream has up to infinity in value. Build up images of the dream. Give a taste of what the dream is like. Let it linger. Let it weave itself. Let the imagination of the buyer take hold and run with it.
But then, you might ask, do I risk under-delivering.
Answer: Yes. Don’t do that. Be as good as the dream.
This is similar to point B with the one difference that you have already made a sale.
If it’s not going well or if it’s leaving a bad taste somewhere inside of you, or if they have gone from friend to enemy for whatever reason and it seems like there is no repair, then fire your customer. The sooner the better.
This applies to not just customers but everyone in your life. EVERYONE.
If someone no longer has your best interest at heart, then in your own self-interest you need to back off. NOW.
A bad customer (a bad person) spreads like a disease inside you, your employees, your other customers, your competitors, your future customers, your family, etc.
“But what if it’s my biggest customer? How do I pay the bills?”
I don’t know. Figure it out. You have to or you will die.
When I tell people to build their “idea muscle” (by writing down 10 ideas, good or bad, every day) it’s not so they can come up with great business ideas (although they might).
It’s so they can come up with ideas in situations like this. This is where being an idea machine saves your life and saves everything around you.
But remember: bad customers will kill you and your family and your friends.
Your best new customers are your old customers. If you need to make more money or build new business then go to your customers (who are now your friends) and ask them, “I need advice. What other service can I provide you or anyone you know.”
It might be something totally unrelated to your business. No problem. Do it. It might be your customer is looking for a new job. That’s great. Make it your business to find him a new job. Now you have a new customer.
It might be your customer needs a boyfriend. Ok, introduce her to all of your friends who might be good for her. If you’ve been following this approach to sales then your customers are now your friends, are now your family, are now the lifeblood of how you wake up in the morning.
We spend years building a garden. We plant the seeds. We tend the soil. We water the plants.
But we are also the sun. The sun shines no matter what. It doesn’t care which flower blossoms. The sun is always there providing value every second of the day.
Be the sun and you will become abundance.
I don’t know the buzzwords to make a sale. I’m not very good at shaking hands. I don’t take people out to baseball games or do any of the things I see other people do.
But I’ve been selling for 25 years. And whenever I’ve been dead broke, depressed, and suicidal, I’ve picked myself up and sold again and again.
I am a salesman.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Google says it’s taking steps to address the increase in YouTube comment spam that arose from the recent shift to the new commenting system powered by Google+. YouTube users have already been fairly displeased with the new system for reasons related to privacy, confusion, and the ability to leave anonymous comments, having already left over 31,000 comments of their own on a video post announcing the changes, many negative. In addition, the most popular petition begging Google to reconsider a move back to the old system has over 215,000 signatures today.
Google+, which is both a destination website and social layer meant to stretch across all Google-owned properties, has been seeping into everything Google puts out, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Blogger, and more. It has also sucked up properties like Picasa and Places, which are now Google+ Photos and Google+ business pages, respectively, into the Google+ identity machine.
But YouTube, Google’s already successful and profitable social networking site, is another matter. Here, users had long established identities of a sort – ones they don’t necessarily want linked to their real names, and ones where they’ve connected with and messaged other YouTube users over the years.
On the YouTube video detailing the change to Google+ comments, there’s an overlay reading: “Thanks for your feedback. We know there are issues with spam and abuse in the new system and we’re working hard to fix them. Click here to learn more.” That link has been directing viewers to a November 6 post on the official YouTube Creators blog, which was updated mid-November with a further acknowledgement of the spam and abuse problems and a promise that fixes were in the works.
It was close as Google got to an admission of failure in terms of its implementation of Google+ comments on YouTube. It’s clear the company didn’t think through the ramifications of a system which would allow Google+ users to include links or other random text in their YouTube comments.
For instance, some commenters are now using ASCII text to leave picture comments, which isn’t abusive as much as it is disruptive – it’s probably not the “high quality” feedback Google had in mind when making this change.
As security researcher Graham Cluley explains today, YouTube may have been home to “some of the most unpleasant, purile and single-braincelled comments in the universe” but it never before had a problem with link spam, because the older commenting system prevented users from leaving messages which included clickable links. But that changed when Google+ comments arrived.
Google had positioned the change as one which would lead to better feedback, for publishers, since it was doing away with the negativity that inevitability arises when anonymous commenting is supported. (Google+ users have to set up accounts using their “real name,” which should have cut down on the abuse.) But better comments were not the result, as it turned out.
Google quickly realized that the system was not as well-guarded against those who would leverage the link-posting capability for less than reputable purposes. Spammers, scammers and those posting malware in link format took advantage of the new system. In his post, Cluley notes that there was so much abuse that some YouTube publishers, including video games reviewer PewDiePie for example, disabled Google+ comments completely after the front pages of its comments sections on videos were filled with links to viruses and spam.
Part of the problem with the abuse is that Google+ favors those whose comments get the most replies. Since many on the web don’t know the ol’ web adage “don’t feed the trolls,” spamming and abusive comments would rise to the top as other angry commenters responded.
On Monday, Google finally issued a progress report on the efforts it has made at addressing the spam and abuse. Again on the YouTube Creators blog, the company announced that video site has now made a number of changes to combat the increase in spammy comments. These include: “better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts,” “improved ASCII art detection,” and “changing how long comments are displayed,” the post explains.
“We know the spam issues made it hard to use the new system at first, and we’re excited to see more of you getting involved as we’ve fixed issues,” reads the post signed by the “YouTube Comments Team.”
The company also promised other changes were in the works, too, such as threaded conversations, formatted comments, and the much-requested option of bulk moderation. And the comments team added also that they’re still working on “improving comment ranking,” which will continue to be necessary as scammers try to find workarounds to the new system and get their comments moved up to the top yet again.
[Image credits: YouTube, GrahamCluley/PewDiePie]
Article courtesy of TechCrunch