How spammers helped Facebook and other social networks to grow?

–Building your own networking startup (Personal experiences)

I am working with a leading company who has developed a dedicated social networking site. While we talk about networking in the present world, there are two types: open and specific. Open network sites are like Facebook, Orkut; at the same time, specific networks are like Linkedin, where more professional people log in (though some spamming has begun there too). The networking site that we have developed and grown is also about a specific topic. These can also be called niche networks.

When a group or an individual starts building a social network, the features that are to be included could not be all-comprehensive. The features, design and other peripheral activities are taken in the development mode where the release cycles of a network are concerned. The development team (the hard-core coders) has its own iterations and planned features that they want to incorporate to make the UI and UE (user experience) of the network more likeable, suitable, convenient, navigation-friendly, simpler (non-complex), etc.

But how spammers help the developers or project managers to develop various types of features of a social network?

When Orkut and other social networks started gaining popularity, lots of people shared their stuff online. It was all open. Anybody could peep-in, use it for whatever purposes they fancy about. Then, when Facebook took over the social networking world and became almost a liability for various types of service companies, the concern about privacy and secure content gained momentum. Why there was such a hue and cry about privacy? Because of spammers who used the content of users for their vested interests. Facebook got to know about various tricks played by spammers and accordingly developed various types of features whereby users can choose who can peep-in their profiles; hide posts by users that they find inappropriate; block a user completely, etc. All these features are developed over the life-cycle of the social network.

We also faced a similar problem. Some spammers started posting defamatory, obscene, derogatory, and abusive comments on other users’ profiles. The attack was continuous and persisting. There were numerous possibilities and considerations that we took into account to avoid such an attack. Obviously, various features were developed over a period of time.

I would go a bit off-topic here. Saint Tulsidas has said that we should keep our critics close to us because they are the ones who tell us our shortcomings. Police develops new ways to handle the menace thieves from thieves only because the thieves keep coming with more innovative ideas.

I would like to call the spammers a unit of R&D who help the startups to know the security loopholes through which the system can be put to danger.

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