Among the disturbing trends found was a big increase in fraudulent accounts, suggesting user bases should be taken with a pinch of salt. Worse, Impermium claims so-called ‘sleeper cells’ of accounts now exist, with coordinated attacks by fraudulent accounts activating simultaneously, in an attempt to subvert or take down networks. Impermium also found social media exploitation techniques are evolving, giving the example that “social spammers are increasingly using emotionally charged news to win clicks. The deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Amy Winehouse, among other major stories, deceived users into clicking on malicious links.” The infographic claims it took just three hours for scammers to exploit Winehouse’s death. Interestingly, the report also says that small businesses are increasingly getting into the spamming game as the economy continues to teeter on the brink, although it neglects to provide any figures for this.
Elsewhere, Impermium qualifies its results by saying they are based “on a large representative sample of the social web– more than 104 million social media transactions collected over a 100-day period (June-August), from a base of more than 90 million users spread across 72 countries”. While, therefore, not necessarily precise, a sample of this size should fairly accurately highlight trends and flag what anyone advising clients on social-network strategy should watch out for.