Earlier today Steve Rubel wrote about a fake news story about Sony recalling its brand new Sony Playstation 3 console, and thus fooling many Diggers into clicking their vote. Actually the problem is much bigger, and not isolated to just Digg, and it represents a growing threat to the whole social media phenomenon.
Niall Kennedy has spent a lot of time investigating many of the issues and has published a must read article today. He looked at some of the questionable posts on Digg, and followed the link trail which let him to a dental plan site, a church and a company probably based in Bangladesh. The link trail is also littered with money, a lot of money.
The dental plan site, that gamed Digg to get higher page rank gets about $40 a referral, Kennedy writes. He explains how the game works… interesting reading!
The bloggers have been dealing with issues of comment and trackback spam, though some tools like Akismet have helped. But the intensity of spam continues to grow. (Akismet has caught about 500,000 pieces of spam in our comment system.) There have been reports about MySpace being used to spread spyware, and spam sites. This problem is not going away any time soon.
Social media sites and search engines need to stay on top of this new form of content creation, continually analyzing data and scrubbing out the dirt. Sites overrun with web spam quickly lose their utility and might be banned from search engines.