Sunday, October 7, 2007

YouTube Spam Panic Emerging; Why Don't All Networks Have Spam Control?

Multiple press outlets are reporting this morning about the increasing use of YouTube's messaging and basic video hosting features for spam. There's nothing that many people hate more than spam, apparently feeling obligated to read every email that lands in their inbox. Why the new world of social networking and social media hasn't taken the most basic steps to stop spam and pre-empt this criticism I don't know. Perhaps like MySpace's awful but page-load intensive site design, YouTube doesn't stop spam because it serves their interests in driving traffic and selling ads.

Google's video sharing site still hasn't instituted as much as a captcha requirement in order to send a message through its service, something that even MySpace did only last week. If the proliferation of spam blogs on Google's Blogspot is any indication it may be a long time before YouTube does anything about spam emails driving users back to their site.

Unfortunately even if the sitemail spam was brought under control there will always be content spam on any social media platform. Witness the once proud brand of Tivo and its reported use of the insipid service PayPerPost to amass video testimonies on YouTube. I'm a believer that commercial communication can have a place in social media conversations, so long as it's fully disclosed and is at least 80% focused on adding honest value of general interest even to audiences uninterested in the particular product. I don't think that's the case with most PayPerPost ink spilled in praising B-rate bed and breakfasts and online services with no scruples or genuinely compelling value.

Regardless of all that, unless increasingly high-profile social media outlets like YouTube take effective steps to stop both messaging and content spam we can expect not only more unsolicited email but also a pile of media coverage on the topic. I just thought I'd get in on the news cycle early and put it in context.

Check out a summary of the week's Web Tech action on Read/WriteWeb with our Weekly Wrapup!

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