Spammers target social networks

2012-08-16 07:21
Social network users should be wary of brands targeting them with spam. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Social network users should be wary of brands targeting them with spam. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Spam served via social networks is expected to grow as spammers increasingly target trending topics in the hopes of directing more internet traffic to their websites.

Consumers should be aware of the practices that spammers will use to win clicks on networks like Twitter, an industry insider has advised.

"You can be sure that people will look for loopholes around Facebook and Twitter. On Twitter, for example a tactic used by spammers is to look for trending topics," managing director of Dr Pieter Streicher told News24.

Streicher has long campaigned against unsolicited messages and is particularly vocal about SMS spam.

Companies have realised that as consumers move to social networking platforms, it represents a new opportunity to target spam.


Many spammers will follow Twitter users and tweet their names with a link to spam or malicious website. It has also become more common for them to abuse the hash tag for trending topics in order to snare unwary users.

"Social networks are not immune to spamming tactics; you see it also on forums on the internet. People are discussing a certain topic and suddenly there's a completely unrelated comment with an advert," said Streicher.

Current legislation doesn't forbid spam and obliges the receiver to opt out, as in the case on cellphone messages.

Streicher believes this approach is erroneous because the user may incur costs to opt out, and the opt out only prohibits that particular company from sending spam, it does not prevent them from selling a consumer's details to a third party.

"It allows that practice until the point that you are about to get message and the only onus on the company is to check that you have not opted out before," he said.

He advised consumers to use the social networking tools to name and shame brands that employed spamming tricks as well as online portals such as HelloPeter.

"My advice to consumers is that if brands behave in a way that they regard as unacceptable, to simply tweet about that. Consumers have a lot of power today because new communication tools allow them to tell everyone what is happening."

The Protection of Personal Information Bill (Popi) is aimed at regulating what can be done with personal information and seeks to enforce openness about how and where personal data will be used.

"That [Popi] works on an opt in basis - that's the first legislation in South Africa that actually looks at how personal information is dealt with. There's basically a principle throughout this act that there should be consent," said Streicher.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter 

Read more on:    internet

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Madonsela to probe ANC food-for-votes claims

Public protector Thuli Madonsela has launched an investigation into whether the ANC has used state resources for its electoral campaign, says a report.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R3565.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.