How to Avoid Violating Social Networks’ Spam Guidelines

Getting flagged as a spammer (intentionally or not) is the easiest way to lose your online credibility. No one likes to receive spam and they especially hate to be bothered by it on Facebook or Twitter. If you have been wrongfully flagged as spam, or are thinking about entering the social media sphere as a marketer, read on to know what each site defines as spam and the best ways to avoid having this social nightmare happen to you.

Facebook

facebook1Facebook is the number one social network in the world. It’s estimated to have more than 750,000 visitors daily. On their home page, like most other social media sites, they have a community guidelines section that defines acceptable and unacceptable behavior. In these guidelines it clearly states that “it is a violation of the Facebook Terms to repeatedly send the same message or make the same post because this could be considered spam or harassment.” This also includes sending bulk messages. They also state that sending someone a friend request that you don’t know personally or posting the same link multiple times on someone’s page is considered spam. Further in their community guidelines they list the following as being “abusive” and unacceptable behavior on their site:

  • Misleading, defrauding, or confusing people
  • Anything that requires people to invite all of their friends
  • Pages, groups or events that misrepresent a prize or promotion
  • Pages, groups or events that require people to perform an action in order to enter a promotion (For example: uploading a photo or posting on someone’s timeline)
  • Automatically enrolling someone in a promotion when they like the page or accept an invitation

These are the main ways to be labeled as spammer, to learn more about other guidelines like hate speech and racism, visit Facebook’s Community Standards. 

Twitter

twitter1Twitter was introduced to the World Wide Web in 2006 and increased the amount of its users to over 500 million by 2012. Twitter is the perfect platform for spreading information rapidly with over 400 million tweets getting published daily. They have very strict rules on spamming and will quickly stop you from tweeting if they suspect you’re a spammer. For example, if you try to tweet a link that is flagged as being suspicious, malware, or unsafe, they will block it from being posted.

If you are looking into developing an application or program that utilizes Twitter (Instagram for example), they will monitor what is coming from that as well.  There are some people who develop programs just to use platforms like Twitter to spam people or hack their accounts. If they start to receive user reports or notice that spam is stemming from a program, they will reach out and try to remedy the situation. If it continues, they will ban your application from the Twitter ecosystem entirely. Here are a few things they look for in spammers:

  • Aggressively following or unfollowing different users
  • Aggressive follow “churn” (This is when an account repeatedly follows and unfollows the same user)
  • Serial accounts
  • Sending repeat mass invitations
  • If your updates consist mainly of links
  • If a large number of people block you
  • Adding a large amount of unrelated users to lists in order to bring attention to an account
  • Purchasing followers
  • Repeatedly creating false or misleading content in order to bring attention to an account

Those are just a portion of what Twitter considers spam. To find out more view the spam section of their guidelines.

Pinterest

Pinterest1Pinterest is one of the new kids on the (social media) block, and was introduced in 2010 by Ben Silbermann. It was originally an invite-only site and Silberman personally invited the first 5,000 users himself. Once the site gained more credibility, users were able to request to be invited. Soon 48.7 million users were pinning their hearts away.

This site allows people to post content (i.e. pins) which goes into a huge dashboard for other users to find and repin to their own boards. Unfortunately, some pins were being disguised to look like they directed to an authorized website, but then brought users to a spam site when clicked. The Pinterest team quickly discovered this loophole and set up their spam guidelines.

  • Posting commercial products without having a Pinterest business account
  • Posting anything that creates risk or harm to others
  • Posting content that exposes children to something inappropriate
  • Posting content that is illegal
  • Posting content that you do not have the right to post
  • Posting anything that is fraudulent, false, or misleading
  • Attempting to bypass, remove, deactivate, impair, or descramble any technological factor implemented by Pinterest
  • Posting content that is an advertisement, promotional material, email, junk mail, chain letters or any other form of solicitation

Find out additional information in their user agreement.

LinkedIn

4LinkedIn is becoming the best way to build a professional reputation on the internet. Their premise is based on the 10th degree theory, that everyone is connected to the 10th degree. LinkedIn allows you to connect with people you know and lets them connect you with people they know, ultimately building your network. This platform is most commonly used for business professionals who are looking for jobs or keeping their resume available for other LinkedIn users to see.

There are a number of ways people can spam on this site, and the spammers are often very misleading. The easiest way to be flagged as spam is to ask to connect with people who don’t know you. They can immediately reject the invite and mark you as spam. If you too many people flag you, your account will be restricted or closed. (For an alternative to connecting with people outside of your immediate network, find a mutual connection and ask them to introduce you.) Some other ways to be marked as spam on LinkedIn are:

  • Sending malicious or spammy messages
  • Creating multiple profiles
  • Creating false profiles
  • Posting inappropriate content
  • Uploading a profile picture that is not your own
  • Sharing the information of others without their consent
  • Using bots to access LinkedIn, add or download contacts, or send messages

This is a small list of the ways you will get the attention of the Linkedin spam watchers. You can see a full list in their user agreement.

Tumblr

tumblrWhat do you get when you roll all of the previous social media sites together into one? The answer is Tumblr. This is a blog-inspired platform that allows users to post, like, reblog, connect, and basically do anything else you can imagine. You are able to post images, videos, written articles, quotes, and audio for others who follow you to like and reblog. This site was created in 2006 and today has over 108 million users. Tumblr has been known to contain a large amount of pornography which begs the question as to how the creators determine what is spam and what is not. Tumblr provides a full list of guidelines and defines the following behavior as spam:

  • Abusing social gestures
  • Sending unwanted messages
  • Putting tags on posts that will mislead or deceive searchers (For example: tagging a picture of your car as #justintimberlake when it is clearly not)
  • Posting deceptive links or shady codes in a post
  • Using JavaScript to inject unwanted ads in blogs
  • Using deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic
  • Creating blogs with the primary purpose of affiliate marketing

Using social media is a great way to build a reputation for yourself or your business. Being labeled as a spammer on these sites is a quick way to gain a bad reputation and lose access to your social networks. When in comes to aggressively promoting your brand and content: if in doubt, check the spam guidelines. These guidelines are created to protect all of the users; by following each social networks’ rules  you will have the opportunity to gain the visibility and engagement you seek without angering your friends, followers, clients, or colleagues.

About the author

Jessica Stevens

Jessica is blessed to be born and raised in the Sunshine State. She graduated from The University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing. In her free time she loves to watch reality TV, shop and, spend time outdoors.