Spam: Worth $200 Million A Year on Facebook

spamOn Facebook, posting spam on popular pages is a widely profitable enterprise. In fact, this industry is worth $200 million a year. A new study conducted by Italian researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo de Micheli has found the extent and worth of the spam business on Facebook. While Facebook has a financial incentive to stop the spread of spam, the researchers believe that the social network is not fighting against spam to the full extent of its abilities.

The Study

The study found that spammers are paid anywhere from averages of $13 per post on a page with about 30,000 fans to $58 per post on a page with over 100,000 fans. With each spam page generating about 18,000 posts each day, the average salary for a spammer is around $200 million per year. The way spam on Facebook works is that a spammer will usually set up an individual Page to attract fans. After they gain a certain number of Likes, the owner of the Page will sell spam links on the page to third parties.

To advertise themselves, the researchers found that spammers post on a set of 20 sites to offer their services. Furthermore, they discovered that about 30,000 pages on Facebook are involved in a network of spammers. About 1 in every 8 Facebook Pages contains spam links, and many are involved in the business of posting affiliate links, earning thousands of dollars every day. Though the research team did not determine the ROI for the third parties involved in Facebook spam, it must be greater than what the spammers are earning for the business to continue profiting.

How Facebook is Responding

Despite the amount of spam that this study uncovered, Facebook reported in 2012 that spam only represents about 4% of all content posted on the site. In comparison, spam comprises over 70% of emails. However, the Facebook terms of service do prohibit spam on its pages, and the company does have a financial incentive to get rid of spam. Spam can both cause users to leave and detract from the value of advertisements. Despite this incentive, the researchers for this study argue that Facebook could be doing more to combat spam. Facebook has not released a comment, simply stating the ways that they do combat spam.

How much spam do you see on Facebook?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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