There’s no denying the extreme impact social media has on our society today. From Facebook boasting hundreds of millions of active accounts to Twitter users posting a cumulative of over 200 million tweets per day—it’s evident people have caught on to the craze.
Luckily, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, and Google have all recently banded together to take a stand against such practices. The four competitors recently formed the Ads Integrity Alliance which will work with the Interactive Advertising Bureau to keep malicious, fraudulent spam off of their sites—and hopefully the web as a whole. The group’s main purpose will be to spread awareness of faulty “badware” in hopes of curtailing it not only from the big-name sites, but also smaller, newer ones that have fewer resources.
So what suddenly prompted this move? Increasing occurrences of malware, scams and counterfeit product ads has left consumers and developers alike questioning their faith in the web we have all grown to love, so it’s been a long time coming. While this new alliance is a step in the right direction –don’t let it give you a false sense of security. It’s important to be aware of the threats and risks that still abound. Whatever you click on or digest is completely up to you so continue to exercise caution.
Read on for a rundown of the three types of “badware” that could be threatening you and your company now.
Depending on how web-savvy you are, you may or may not realize you have probably already been exposed to a form of this without even realizing it. Short for malicious software—this can include anything from computer viruses to Trojans to worms and can lead to identity theft and fraud. Usually embedded in ads, sometimes these are hard to spot.—especially for those with less web experience. For instance, college students and other people who spend a great deal of time online can probably spot something that looks suspicious, but for the casual web user—like my mom—it can be especially easy to be fooled by these.
Plus, hackers spend day and night perfecting and developing their techniques, making it harder for even the trained eye to detect. That’s where the new alliance will step in. There will be professionals constantly on the lookout for suspicious red flags.
Another unfortunate use of these popular social media sites is to scam users. Usually in the form of something that requires them to fork over lots of money, these scams are good at knowing how to sound just appealing and convincing enough to win over their audience. Recently, certain Facebook groups popped up warning people about said scams, but some of those turned out to be massive shams as well.
Sometimes these strike in the form of ads and other times you might get a random private message. Either way, if you see a suspicious link you weren’t expecting and don’t recognize, don’t click on it, and definitely don’t give out any sensitive personal information.
Counterfeit Product Ads
The third suspicious form of web content the alliance seeks to crackdown on is the advertisement of counterfeit ads. I know I have seen them—a great deal on a name brand Prada bag. Jewelry at a fraction of the cost you might find elsewhere. Although the cliche “if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is” should come to mind in these instances, sometimes those ads can be quite tempting. But, just like the scams and the malware creators, it puts your information at the mercy of hackers and criminals looking to make a quick buck. Plus, these pose commercial issues for the big four who rely on actual advertising from the same name brands that are being illegally hawked. Talk about a conflict of interest. Plus, allowing malicious, false advertisements on your company’s start can lead consumers to lose faith in and question the credibility of your organization’s ultimate goals.
This article should not deter you from continuing to use your social media platform(s) of choice—either as personal recreation or to support your web marketing efforts. As long as you are diligent and not too trusting of the quality and integrity of the content you see, you should be fine. If you are a web page or social media account administrator, you should appreciate this progress, as it should make it easier to separate content that has integrity from that which has ulterior motives. Hopefully, this alliance is a sign of better things to come and a safer, more reliable web for all.
Aniya Wells is a freelance blogger whose primary focus is writing about online degree programs. She also enjoys investigating trends in other niches, notably technology, traditional higher education, health, and small business. Aniya welcomes reader questions and comments at email@example.com.