Orkut Spammers!

Time and again we’ve seen it happen. A site / online system gets popular. Really, really popular. Then the spammers move in and abuse the system to it’s utmost. Recently, I’ve been getting all sorts of spam messages originating from within the orkut social networking system.

I’ve gotten friend requests from unknown people, whose profile pages only have the standard go to such-and-such websites and please click the powered advertisement under my site name lamer pitch to steal advertiser dollars. Exploiting a pay-per-click system by getting random people to click on the said advertisements has, sadly, become quite a thriving industry over the years.

I’ve gotten spam messages that have been sent to entire orkut groups promoting some ridiculous get rich scheme that is surely a scam. Everything from schemes which give you $6000 just to signup to check some email messages (!?!) to the above mentioned “Click my ad, please?” messages to the click the email message schemes.

The distressing part of all this is that there seems to be a growing segment of orkut users who don’t even understand the way these falsified revenue systems work. Simply watching a neighbouring user do it, they pick up the nuances (or some half baked ideas of their own!) and go ahead and abuse the system. Why am I distressed? Think about the volume of users who would potentially fall into this “I don’t know how this works, but I saw my friend do it, and it appears to be a great way to earn side income and I want to try it out” segment. And then tell me you don’t get distressed with thoughts about what would happen if they all started to do this.

It’s rapidly degenerating into sufficient time-wasted on my personal email account that I’m contemplating setting up an Outlook Mail rule that filters all orkut mail into a separate folder than my Inbox. This will mean that all orkut emails will mostly be ignored until I figure out it’s time to mark-as-read all those emails which stack up in folders other than my Inbox.

Did the spammer’s win this battle?
I don’t know. Maybe if sufficient number of users try these kinds of stunts (aren’t there enough already?) orkut will be forced to review their message sending policies. Maybe I should just go to orkut and “tweak” the settings to not send me emails whenever someone sends me a message in orkut. I think that would defeat the whole purpose of having orkut around in the first place, though.

Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that in the real-life (read: physical) socially disconnected world that I live in, my buddies, my pals from school, college, etc. would somehow find me and communicate with me. I wouldn’t have a way to figure out who got married, who’s doing what, where they are. Nothing beats the reminiscent smile that lights up face when an old, old, buddy sends me an orkut message.

One of the most surprising things about orkut is the amount of users it has. A large number of users stumbling around in orkut space,  going from one profile to another, and one group to another, and so on.

My point?
With it’s closed off borders (you still require to have an invite-in, I believe) orkut is really beginning to harbor a haven for spammers, who are, currently at least, going away unpunished. I’d hate to see orkut become yet another social network that I am forced to disconnect from, because it went sour.