Glassdoor and Facebook Spam

In the last couple of weeks my feed has been contaminated by an uber-spammy application called Glassdoor (no link, I don’t want to contribute to their SEO). I was curious why so many of my friends were interested in this app so I conducted a little research.

The result was not surprising: they had no clue what Glassdoor is.

Here is the algorithm that made this thing spread so aggressively:

  1. A victim installs the Glassdoor Facebook app.
  2. Without the victim’s consent (or awareness), Glassdoor posts a message to the victim’s wall, inviting his/her friends.
  3. Say the victim has 500 friends. ~20% will see the post (a 100 people). It’s enough that 2% are suckers, they’ll click on the app out of curiosity. This means a viral factor of 2. If 5 people on average click it, it will spread even faster.
  4. The app will then post to the victims walls and the vicious circle continues.
  5. Once a certain amount of people you know post it to their wall, your curiosity may also arise, you’ll click the app and become part of the spam distribution chain.
  6. You’ll start getting Glassdoor spam directly to your mail, because Facebook is generous enough (or, rather: doesn’t give a s**t about your privacy) to share your personal email with the applications you install.
  7. Glassdoor has access to all your Facebook profile info, as well as the information of your friends (that’s right, unless you manually fixed your privacy settings, applications installed by your friends also have access to your data).

Insights:

  1. Most Internet users are way too naive (show me the ones who click on banners ads! I never met anyone in person)
  2. It’s outrageous that Facebook doesn’t block spammy apps who trick users in wall-spamming. They could fix this issue with a simple tweak – simply don’t show that wall post on people’s feeds.
  3. Glassdoor will benefit highly from their spammy tactics.  Once the spam wave is over, they are still left with a lucrative email database with millions of records and data of millions of user profiles. They’ll keep abusing the data and continuously email these users until they reach critical mass of active users, raise $20M dollars and build a company on top of it. Branchout used the same abuse technique on top of LinkedIn a year ago, and nabbed $25M recently. Dirty, but works.

Conclusion:

In the Internet-land, being a crook pays off big time. We see it over and over again (toolbar companies anyone?) It’s like the wild west, yet this time there is no sheriff that will get things in order. Maybe Chuck Norris could.

 

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