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4 min read

5 ways to protect the online user experience from spam

By Alexis Palmer

As the holiday season kicks off, the risk of online users being subjected to spam and fraud increases significantly. When we think of spam, our minds often wander toward thoughts of unwanted emails and pop-up messages, but what about the issue of spam on online gaming, social media, and other platforms? Specifically, we're tuned into the issue of the effects of spam on user experience. 

According to the FTC, in 2021, users reported $770M in losses through fraudulent activities conducted via social media. It's an issue that affects a user's wallet and their sentiment towards the platforms they use. 

What Are The Types of Spam?

We label spam on online platforms into two categories: spam detours and spam disruptions. 

Spam detours are the act of spam accounts using tactics to pull users away from your platform and onto a different website. The goal typically is to persuade users to give personal information or credit card numbers in exchange for "special offers" or promotions, such as gift cards or explicit materials - in other words, fraud. 

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Spam disruption is the act of repetitive user behavior causing a negative impact on user experience. The unwelcome content disrupts conversations while breaking the user experience and storyline. It most often shows up in the form of repetitive messaging in chat spaces, meaning removing a single message does little to manage the problem.

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Keeping your online community out of the grasp of spammers during the holiday season can be challenging. Still, we've put together this list of 5 actions your platform can take to protect users this holiday season.

1) Establish Strong Policy Guidelines

Solidifying your platform's position on solicitation is crucial in building the foundation of spam and fraud prevention. You have to be specific and concise about what your platform considers a violation to have a basis for removing spam content or users. 

Every platform is different, but your policy should be able to assess and approach the fraudulent activity happening among users. Phishing, fictitious/unauthorized banking, and identity theft can take various forms of distribution. Just a handful of examples include: 

  • "Clickbait" Scams
  • Romance & Online Dating 
  • Lottery / Sweepstakes scams
  • Money-making schemes

The best solution allows vendors and data analysts to understand what is happening, the frequency at which it happens, and where it is happening on your platform. Through contextual AI solutions, you can gain a better grasp of these properties through data, analytics, and more in-depth reporting. 

2) Create Buffers in Your Reaction Strategy

Spam creates several issues - a significant portion being a disruption to user experience in addition to fraud. However, the challenge is solvable, with just .1% of users making 85% of spam on platforms. 

It can seem as if the easy response is to delete or noticeably flag spammers' accounts - but that isn't usually the most productive method. An immediate reaction to spammers can frequently create a doorway for them to adjust their strategies and shift to being undetected. For instance, if they receive a response to posting ten times within a minute, they may reduce their actions to posting nine times within a minute instead - still disrupting fellow users. 

Implementing user-level capabilities to identify those causing a large amount of spam can give room in your approach. 

3) React Without Really Reacting

Similarly to previously stated, once an account has been flagged, spam accounts will shift tactics to deflect and avoid disciplinary actions. So how do product teams and engineers update their content moderation strategies to manage? By not allowing the spammers to know they have been flagged. 

Utilizing contextual AI, teams can adapt and apply their policies to changing behaviors. Common practice has become to shift spammers into their own echo chambers through ghost comments and shadow bans. This allows platforms to quietly place spam accounts in "time out" while still restricting the visibility of their content to other users. 

4) Automated Your Spam Detection

The creativity of different types of spam is admirable to some degree - but for engineers and platform managers, it can take time and effort to track and keep up with changing methods. The answer? Automated detection technology. 

Using automated technology when managing spam on your platform expands your current content moderation solution by multiplying the capabilities of your moderators. In other words, automated spam detection puts more power in the hands of your moderators by expanding their abilities to detect and react to questionable content. This can also allow moderators to focus more on keeping users safe from other high-risk behaviors. 

5) Utilize Contextual AI

Spectrum Labs Spam solution can detect spam behaviors to help your online communities block attempts to draw users away from your platforms and prevent repeated messages from disrupting the user experience.

Every community is different, which is why we've made it possible to fine-tune our solution to meet the needs of your user base. We can help your team detect the nefarious actions most frequently occurring within your community and develop an approach that fits your needs.

If you want to learn more about how our solution to spam can help your platform react in real-time and at scale, contact our team today!

Learn more about how Spectrum Labs can help you create the best user experience on your platform.