Social media bombs and spam.

Kjell Gunnar Bleivik 05.13.2010 Status: May be updated with additional information.

Contagion effects are well known and financial problems like the 2008 credit crunch can spread from market to market and country to country like a meteor shower that hit the earth. Loacally it can hit a market like a heat wave. There are many ways to be reckognized by search engines some semantic and other fake or spammy. If you try to manipulate your position in the search engine in one way or another that is not natural, it can be regarded as spam. It is not spam to write conent and link to it in a semantic way. Google bombs refer to practices intended to influence the ranking of particular pages on the Google SERPs.

Now a similar phenomenon seems to have hit the web, what I will call social media and network bombs. One recently experienced example was a twitter pomb I experienced in the middel of may 2010. Suddenly my email account was bombed with new followers, about 100 in 24 hours. Immediately I thought that this was a new form of spam and I expected the new followers to unfollow during the next days. And that was exactly what happened. About 24 hours later some had already start to unfollow. So how and why does this happen? Software or Bots are used to assist in mass following - the follow'ee feels great and follows back. The intention is clear:

  1. Gain a higher TwitterRank and give the impression that you are a popular twitterer.
  2. Indirectly increase your SERP ranking sine your site get more focus.

When you have gained your new followers, you can silently remove the original follower. I am a member of the well known and respected forum WebProWorld. There we seemed to agree on the following definitions on (SERP) Spam.

kgun wrote:
SERP Spam:
By SERP spam we mean any thechnique, not related to content, that results in a manipulated position on the SERP's of one or more SE.
pemburung wrote:
SERP Spam:
pages on a SERP that are not relevant to the search term, have been manipulated to artificially raise their SERP rank over that which would be achieved normally through content, relevancy, and good design, or serve no useful purpose for a searcher. Also, the use of techniques, legitimate or otherwise, to achieve this.
DrTandem1 wrote:
is any repetitive use of a term for the sole purpose of artificially increasing SERP ranking.

The spammer's imagination, methods and creativity seems endless and in the video embedded in a related article I wrote some days ago, I compared it to a crow disturbing the brids song in the nordic spring. We may even compare it to an aeroplane that goes in for landing on a near by air port. So the conclusion of this article should be. Not only are social media and networks the new WWW drivers, but also the new spam engines and platforms.

This article is not written to discredit twitter in any other way than that the site should be able to cope with the problem in a better way. My example was a "twitter bomb", but I am sure that there are many other ways to do it and most probably it is done. The scale of the problem is unkonwn to me. What I experienced was very easy to identify. There may be many that are much more sofisticated and invisible. Regarding Google's devaluation of paid links, I remember that many big players were het by a PageRank massacre. Is there time for a similar social media and network massacre of manipulated content? It can hit myself since I interlink many of my social media platforms. But I think the audience is different and the content / linking is meant to be semantic. The search engines may regard it as spam though, according to the above mentioned definitions.

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