Over the last couple of months, our media organization has experienced a surge in spam profiles joining our Google Plus communities on an unprecedented level. The real problem they cause for us is the fact they're unsightly to say the least, often featuring pictures of woman in provocative poses, and the worst part is, the spammers put an exclamation mark in front of the name so the profiles will appear first in the community members photo box, as shown in the pictures I've included. While it appears Google is aware of the issue, and they've been moving quickly to deactivate such accounts as quickly as possible, community moderators and owners are forced to either manually delete all those spam profiles, or end up with a community member box full of blue heads.
The good news is, Google's spam filters are among the best on the web, and it's a rare event that spam ever actually makes it into our community streams. For instance, Google typically flags over 100 posts in a single day for moderator review in our social networking community, "Strategic Social Networking" alone. Those flagged posts get put into a spam folder where they're removed from the community flow entirely until moderators can review them. While I applaud Google's efforts to help keep its network free of spam, it's quickly becoming a huge headache to have to manually delete all those deactivated profiles from the view of community members one at a time!
Notice the picture at the top of this post, it's of Strategic's members. Upon first glance, it's easy to see the exclamation marks they've put in place when naming the profiles in order to game Google's algorithms into putting them first in terms of visibility. The blue heads are actually the accounts that have already been deactivated, but notice they remain in place. Why Google deactivates them but leaves them in place is the part I cannot figure out.
This picture is of the community member photo box from Strategic, and unfortunately this is what people see when they enter our community. Again, it's truly unsightly to see a bunch of blue heads and fake profiles filling one of the most prominent spots of communities themselves. Notice all the fake profiles are of woman wearing bikinis, etc. Not exactly something that fits into the theme of our community. Our members too have expressed concern over profiles like those shown here, and have asked us what Google was doing to combat the problem that's now engulfed communities across the entire network.
A couple of months ago, the problem with these spam profiles was minimal, but lately it's become an everyday occurrence and it costs us a great deal of time to deal with them.
This also brings to light another issue that currently plagues communities on the network, which has to do with the fact that, when moderators go to review their communities spam folders, they're often met with hundreds of flagged posts, in which each one has to be dealt with individually, as Google provides us with no way to remove, report, and ban spam posts and profiles in mass. A good solution would be for Google to include a single check box that highlights all the flagged posts in a spam folder, so moderators can delete these useless posts all at once, rather than spending a half hour or longer to do a single cleanup.
The same goes for the community member photo boxes, in which, as I stated before, we must manually delete those fake profiles one by one. Wouldn't it be a better option to be able to highlight a number of fake profiles, posts, etc, and click a single button to delete them? Either way, Google has some serious work to do in regards to dealing with spam folders, fake profiles, and spam posts as a whole.
At present, we've been making a strong effort to make sure those fake profiles, etc, don't remain in place for long, and we will continue to manually delete them if we have too.
If we were to compare how Google deals with spam in comparison to other networks, Google Plus still remains among the cleanest of social spaces on the web today. Other networks like Facebook have proven incapable of dealing with spam in some instances, such as is the case with their Groups, which often are heavily spammed because the network has done a poor job of flagging suspicious posts and profiles, while networks like Google Plus have communities that mostly remain spam free.
While having to manually delete all those spam posts and profiles one at a time is truly annoyance, I still thank Google for making such a huge effort to keep those spam out of the flow of our community streams. I think it will take some time, but Google will hopefully make some positive changes to communities that will make it easier for moderators to deal with these types of issues as well.