NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, August 16, 2010

Facebook Recommends Spam Profiles Posted by Sean @ 16:02 GMT

Facebook's "People You May Know" feature appears to be using profile search history when making its recommendations.

I frequently search for spam related keywords, and today, two spam accounts were recommended to me.

People You May Know

Elma and Drema? I don't know anybody by those names…

Searching for the name "Elma Fewell" yielded a few doppelg´┐Żngers. Checking incremental Facebook IDs yielded even more.

All of these spam accounts were created on Wednesday, August 11th.

Facebook Spam

I also found five Sueann Dehart accounts and a Janiece Duval. All of the profile pictures are of attractive young woman (and one of Kim Kardashian). Several of the photos appear to be of Ukrainian models, based on a reverse image search.

The profiles posted spam links such as these on the 12th:

  •  A deal you just can't refuse!
  •  Check this out!
  •  Do not pay for a new iphone 4, get one for free one for no cost!
  •  I became tired of my old mobile phone and got an apple iphone 4 for free!
  •  Incredible Offer Below
  •  Just had to share this with you
  •  Take advantage of this awesome deal!
  •  Take advantage of this great deal!
  •  Whoa, check this out everyone

The links lead to LiveJournal pages that display this iPhone 4 bait:

LiveJournal Spam

But then the "Click Here Now" button directs to another domain which, in Finland at least, gives the following message:

"Sorry, this offer is unavailable in your country. You are now being redirected to a similar offer that is available in your country."

And I was then directed to advertisements for "Bounty Bay Online" by Frogster games, a Berlin based game company.

Bounty Bay Online, http://www.frogster.de

One of my German colleagues has informed me that there's a game expo coming up soon, and that Frogster is promoting a free MMORPG. I think it unlikely that Frogster could be aware of just how their advertising budget is possibly being drained by these unscrupulous affiliate marketers via Facebook and LiveJournal. (Our German office will let them know…)

Abuse messages have been sent to the appropriate parties.

As for Facebook… thanks, but I really don't appreciate the recommendations. Perhaps Facebook should allow people to purge their search history from time to time? Or else they should retool their recommendation algorithm to weed out the fakes.

It's easy enough finding spam on my own — I don't need any extra help.

Signing off,