Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/25/14 The Fun of Running a Facebook Group

Meet Labo Zina. S/he's the newest person (bot) to request addition to the Almeda Mall Facebook group. Her request was sent overnight. Or, middle of the day in Asia, more likely.

If you've never run a Facebook group before, you might naively click "add" to everyone who requests to join. Why not, right? The more, the merrier memories.


Run any group for any amount of time and you will run into the ubiquitous bots that will spam your group's page with shoe ads. 

Why shoes? 

I've asked myself this many time. I don't have an answer.

But it's always shoes. 

That happens enough and soon the people who are real people get fed up with the spam and leave the group and it'll die. 

So, for the 1,057 people I've checked out and allowed in, there are probably 100 I've blocked. That's about one in ten requests, although they seem to have a pattern where the bot requests all show up in clusters. 

To add anyone safely, they either have to show that they already have friends in the group, or you have to go review their page. 

By the way, if you're a hyper-paranoid privacy-lock-down kind of person, more power to you. But if I can't ascertain whether you're a real person, don't ask to join a social group. Or at least don't get miffed when I don't allow you to join mine because I can't tell if you are a real person. 

So, to the lesson. 

Here are the easiest ways to spot the bot:

1. No cover photo. Now, I know there are plenty of lite-FB newbies who can't figure out how to replaced that great gray bar wrapping their photo with something else, but bots don't either.

On to 

2. Can you spot the next tell? Do you know Labo? To see what he shares with friends, send him a friend request. Labo Zina changed his profile picture.

Now, honestly, yes, Labo could be a trans-gendered person here, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and call Bot Spot. The poor woman whose photo is being used will have no idea during her last hack it was stolen for illicit shoe purposes. 

The other big tell that isn't present on this morning's example but is in 50% of the cases is that the spam page is so new I can still see "Labo is now using Facebook in English."

So sorry-not-sorry Labo, you just don't pass muster for my group. Take your stupid shoe spam elsewhere and leave my people alone.

Although I did have to laugh at the 20 groups who clearly aren't screening their members and adding every request. Nice top choice!

Of these groups, the top two are out of Texas, but the third is in New York and the fourth is in freaking North Dakota. Another giveaway. Oh, and look! Labo is the very latest addition in three out of the four visible groups!

And the last nail in the coffin, if all of that weren't enough? Labo joined Facebook on March 20.

Wow, five days is actually an eternity for these spam pages. But not quite long enough to fool anyone who's actually paying attention. 

One last note, though. 

A pet peeve, if you will. 

Facebook group admins, on the whole, are pretty diligent about trying to keep the page they created on topic and a friendly, fun place to share stories and photos. They get nothing other than the warm fuzzies in return, which is payment enough. 

But should a bot slip through and go spammy with the shoe ads on a page you're a member of, PLEASE, I beg of you, don't start adding posts about how annoying the shoe posts are. 

We KNOW. We'll remove and ban the bot as soon as we see them. I'll also remove your complaining/lecturing posts, too. The bots aren't reading them!! I am! 

This hasn't actually happened on the Almeda page that I run, but on some other Sagemont groups I'm in. I'm guessing the person taking the time to type out "This isn't the place for your advertising. Please stop!!!!!" etc really has no idea they are shouting into the void and just contributing to the junk clogging up the page. 

So now you know. So stop it. 

If you see spam show up on a group page, please, just private message an admin with the name of the poster. 

This public service announcement brought to you by:


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