Spammers Posting Links On Facebook Earn $200 Million Per Year

Spammers who post links on Facebook fan pages that send people to third-party scam sites are earning $200m every year, as per the calculations done by a team of Italian security researchers who have examined hundreds of thousands of posts on the social network.
The leaders of the group, Carlo De Micheli and Andrea Stroppa, analyzed some pages across the network, and claim to have identified spam by making use of phrases like ‘Hey click here for a free iPhone’ that follow links to sites outside the network. Sites where spammers offer to set up fake fan pages in order to tempt Facebook users to click on links, were also discovered through the research. Postings that breach terms of service stated by Facebook, which says that, ‘third-party advertisements on [fan] Pages are prohibited without our prior permission.’

Although, trying to catch and get rid of the spammers is a growing problem for Facebook. Revenue that the spammers and those running sites linked to, do not form part of Facebook’s revenue, rather piggyback on the success of the social network, which presently has more than a billion users worldwide. Outside sites that have their destination hidden using the URLs with legitimate link shortening services such as or

Research claims that, about 9% of the pages where the users were directed to, by spammers instead use Google’s AdSense, which means that Google involuntarily gets a cut from the money being made by the buyers of spam services. The spammers who post link get paid an average of $13 per post, for pages that have around 30,000 fans, and an approx average of $58 to post on pages with more than 100,000 fans. Guardian claims that De Micheli reported that, if they believe these two as extremes, the pages analyzed generate a revenue of 18,000 posts per day, this means that the revenue per post ranges from $13 to $58, all 365 days a year.

This allocates the spammer’s earnings ranging between $87m and $390m but based on number of fans on the pages, the weighted average goes just over $200m annually. Most of the spammers begin by setting up their own “fan pages” that attract human users and then once they have enough Likes on the page they can begin selling links on it to third parties.

Although, spammers claim that they are helping Facebook. They claim that, Facebook doesn’t ban them, because they generate the content on Facebook themselves. Everyday they materialize funny, and interesting content full of phrases and accordingly that is shared and liked by thousands of users. Although, the fan pages on Facebook would be an empty place, spammers are asking people how many links do they see shared by their friends on their timeline everyday?

As one looks into Facebook spam, it is claimed that researchers found posts that offer to sell spam links on Facebook fan pages that date back to 2010. Presently, they found prices of spammers for posting on pages which already have more than 30,000 likes and so varied from $8 to $20. But, for pages over 100,000 Likes; prices ranged from $35 to $100.

According to the analysis by De Micheli, approximately one of eight pages they looked at was actually docking spam links. Although, Facebook takes action against spam posts and pages as they are reported by users, the sheer volume of spam postings could possibly overwhelm its checking ability to crack down on spam.

A Spokesperson from Facebook reports that, protecting the people who use Facebook is a top priority for them and they have managed to develop a number of automated systems that identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading. These systems quickly spotted such links, and Facebook is working to clear them from the site now.
However, he claims that they have been blocking people from clicking through the links and have reported the bad browser extensions to the appropriate parties. He is very positive and says that they will keep improving their systems so that they ensure people have a safe experience on Facebook.

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