According to the Nexgate research report “2013 State of Social Media Spam,” spam on social networks has risen 355 percent in the first six months of 2013.
The greatest motivation for these spammers is financial gain. They either want to drive traffic to a website where advertisers pay for visitors, or they want to phish your personal information for profit.
Social spam can take several forms, including apps, like-jacking, bots and fake accounts. Social spam apps often promise rewards for using an app. Instead, malicious software, also called malware, is downloaded to exploit your personal and financial information.
Like-jacking occurs when an image appears to be a “Like” but is really an image that links to a website, or places the content at the top of your news feed as if you’ve subscribed to it.
Social bots make comments to certain types of posts — often with links for work-at-home offers, adult content, or pornographic websites.
Fake accounts often pose as a real person or a well-known consumer brand or celebrity. Occasionally these accounts are legitimate before being hacked and used to promote the same sorts of offers that social bots do.
To be safe, you can check links before you click them by using a website or mobile app that checks the safety and destination of a link, including shortened links.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for using social media networks:
• Read and understand the social network’s privacy policies.
• Understand and set up the privacy settings for your account to control who can view your activities.
• Invite and accept only invitations from people you know.
• Never reveal your personal and financial information on your social media profiles and posts.
• Never share your user name and password with a third party.
• Be sure to install all updates for your operating system, browser and antivirus software.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor