Spammers target social networking sites


With well over 100 million active users, it was only a matter of time before Facebook and MySpace became targets of spam. A new survey reveals just how common this has become.

Joe LaCavera of San Francisco has been using MySpace for three years. The social networking site allows friends to share personal profiles, blogs, music and even videos.

But Joe noticed something different about MySpace recently, and he doesn't like it.

"I had more spam messages in my inbox than from my own friends," said LaCavera.

His experience is becoming more and more common among users of many social networking sites, not just MySpace.

A nationwide poll conducted by Harris Interactive found 83 percent of 1,000 users polled have been spammed on their social or professional network account.

More than a third of those people noticed an increase of spam in the last six months.

The poll was conducted for Cloudmark, a San Francisco-based company that provides spam protection for companies worldwide.

Adam O'Donnell is Cloudmark's Director of Emerging Technologies. He encourages everyone to install patches and anti-virus software to make sure their computers are clean.

"You want to use a different password at every website you have access to. You don't want to share account information," said O'Donnell.

But for Joe, even changing his password numerous times didn't help. His friends started getting spam from him he didn't send.

Spammers had someone tap into his friends list, sending out embarrassing messages in his name.

"My friends started sending messages to me saying why are you sending this, what's going on, and it became a problem," said LaCavera.

Cloudmark has seen this before.

"You'll have direct attacks against people's friend list. You'll have attacks against people's accounts," said O'Donnell.

For Joe, it became so frustrating he no longer uses MySpace, and now uses MySpace's rival Facebook.

"I know it's just a Web site, but you feel violated," said LaCavera.

Facebook says it does not tolerate spam and is constantly improving its technology to prevent misuse. 7 On Your Side attempted to call MySpace but it has not yet released a statement.

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