THE BLOG
05/17/2013 10:29 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2013

I Long for the Days of Old-fashioned Spam

Have you noticed the proliferation of a new type of spam out there? I call it Spam 2.0. It was so easy in the "old days" to receive unwanted spam in your email inbox and just delete it, now spam is a sly thing, it creeps into everything and there are many forms. Social media is now the new spam magnet.

2013-05-17-spamcolorprint.jpg

Twitter unwittingly sends spam now, as do Facebook and even Instagram. Twitter spam comes in a few forms, the main type are the ads that show up usually advertising Oreos or a TV show or something and that's okay, because Twitter is free and someone has to support it some way. It's just odd seeing it in your feed. It's marked as "advertising" but it's still a little odd.

The new form of Twitter spam that I don't care for are those people who follow you so that you follow them; they don't care what you have to say, and while I like to think people are following me to get my daily words of wisdom and cartoon updates, that's not the case -- they just want my follow back so they can grab it and unfollow.

There are those who actually follow and keep following you but it's almost an insult because you know they don't care. You know the type -- they have 103,000 followers and they follow 103,000 people, it's an even distribution. It's a numbers game. They follow you, you follow them and no one cares what the other has to say. Let's just keep the numbers up and even.

One insulting thing I have come upon is a person with thousands (or millions) of followers and they only follow like eight people back. If it's Lady Gaga, I get it; if it's just a nobody who plays the follow and drop game, I don't like that, you know, they follow you, you follow back and they drop you. I feel that everything they tweet after that is just spam. Because if they were interesting, they wouldn't need to play this game and they would care enough to interact with you by following you.

One other Twitter spam annoyance is that once you follow someone back they start DMing you, you know, Direct Messages. You open the door a crack and they take advantage.

Facebook now has constant ads showing, which again, pays the bills, so it isn't all bad, but the ads don't appear to the side like they used to, they are now part of your Facebook feed and they appear as if a friend posted them. You can't tell what's what on Facebook now. Is the ad something a friend "likes?" Is it a paid ad? Is it something I "liked" and forgot about?

I have a few fan pages for various things and these consist of people that can just follow you without you "friending them." I get lots of spam there in direct messages. There again, you are opening the door to anyone and they take advantage. There is a "remove DM" button of some sort, I have used it and now people can't reach me with direct message spam. And if you don't regulate your fan pages, it turns into a spam free for all because people will just post whatever they want to sell on your feeds.

Instagram was a nice, little, benign app. I use it to post cartoons daily, I post one Tomversation comic strip a day, people love it.

The spam started on Instagrm with people putting up photos that weren't photos, but were ads to get followers, you know, their ad would say "Do this and get 1 million followers," and when you would look at the spammer's own following they themselves had four followers!

Another form of Instagram spam is where jerks leave comments under your photo with links to some sort of follow back or get followers site. Now I have noticed a bunch of spammer accounts following me. They come in groups, you may get dozens of these bots following all at once and you get all excited because your follower number is up, only to be deflated when Instagram catches up with them and deletes their accounts, then all at once you may see your numbers drop by the hundreds!

The worst now is that Instagram has added "tagging," which works like Facebook, where friends can tag you in their photos. Only spammers are now tagging you on Instagram. They tag a photo of you on their site, which is not a photo of you, it's an ad or something and when you see that you are tagged, you go over to their site to see what your're tagged in. I fall for it all the time.

There are lots of other spam creeps creeping in, like through blog posts and commenting and things like that. But don't get me started on that ....

Tom Falco's daily comic strip, Tomversation, may be seen at
Tomversation.com (along with his blog)
or at Instragram at Instagram.com/tomversation.com