Friday, October 10, 2014

Why "Ignore" is the best strategy to combat spam

A typical image used to manipulate human emotions
The most annoying of all the spams are the spams that make us feel that the person who shared it is a person with minimal level of knowledge. Many of my friends, despite their education and professional levels, fall for the spams that claim sharing a photo will make Facebook donate 1 USD to the poor people. 

More annoyingly, now it has even started to spread to LinkedIn. People download and share photos asking for "Likes". "A million of likes would make my dad quit smoking". They do not even care how can someone use LinkedIn to track the number of likes each of these photos received, as the original photo is actually not just shared. Rather, it is downloaded and re-uploaded. Also, they just assume that the social networks somehow keep track of the number of shares of these photos.

I used to explain to people sharing such posts why these are scams/spams. Eventually I have realized, ignoring is the best way to combat these spams. If you really feel the urge to voice your opinion, send a separate personal email or message regarding this. Just do not comment on the spam/scam photo/post.

Here I explain why.

1. Some users just think Facebook works this way
Trying to explain them is often useless. They just reply, "OK. I just shared. It did not cost me anything. In case, if Facebook indeed donates something? What a big deal?".

2. "Sharing is caring/praying/.."
The second logic they give is, we share to pray for these people. These are just plain spams and the original page owner wants you to share these images just to make their page popular. Moreover, the images are used without the permission of the rightful owners, and are often manipulated with hoaxes. 

The more you share, the more visibility the page gets. The page will eventually be sold to someone. However, if you try to explain the reality as a comment to the photo, the photo gets more visibility. Facebook or LinkedIn cannot differentiate the positive comment from a negative comment. For a spammer, any response is a good response. Ignorance is the only bad response.

3. "If you don't care, can't you just shut up"
"We share because we care about people who are affected. It is ok that you do not care. But can you just stop discouraging those who genuinely care about this marvellous initiative that gives away money to the poor" Believe me, I have seen similar comments for real as a response to anyone who try to explain why we should not share these images.

4. Some users just pretend to be stupid
Now these are the ones who spam intentionally. They download and re-share these contents, or create their own. By manipulating human emotions, they try to exploit some photo that obviously does not belong to them, for their own benefit. For example, getting more visibility to their page or business. Likes, comments, and shares - all are equally valuable for them.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media should be made more intelligent. They should be made to differentiate a supportive comment from a negative comment. At least, they should provide options to the commenter, whether he/she chooses to publish his activity to their network. I do not want my friends to see a spam image just because I commented on that. Also, I do not want the spam to get more scores, just because of the number of comments. Unfortunately, this option is not yet available. Till we get this fixed, it is better to ignore, than trying to explain.

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