Almost everyone has been awarded their medals, except a mighty contingent from around the world that spent the last two weeks competing on similar grounds, exerting their superhuman talents to excel in their dastardly sport – Spamming. It increased through comments on sites and social networks by 54% during just the first four days of the Olympics alone. Luckily, Impermium, a company dedicated to eradicating “the bad guys” from the Internet, was there at the finish line to tally their results for the best of the worst of the Web. And delete their efforts in the process.
While the frequency of spamming has increased dramatically over the past few years, Impermium has managed to keep the comment spam under control – and doesn’t discriminate between who’s competing. Be it jewellery-pawning bot or ultra aggro-troll, they all get a fair shake at being eliminated by the company’s platform that runs on over 300,000 sites worldwide and run anti-spam software on several commenting systems such as Livefyre, Disqus, and Echo.
While spam is generally associated with bots sending out tweets and emails on mass, Impermium lumps in trolls and commenters posting profane and hateful content. The company’s technology seeks out and terminates them with extreme prejudice.
The spam industry as a whole deserves some praise for its hard work this year – in the first four days of the Olympics alone, unwanted user generated content increased by 54 percent over the same stretch of the previous week, says Impermium’s CEO and co-founder Mark Risher. Risher first developed the idea while working at Yahoo Mail’s main spam ninja. He says he realized killing spam had wider uses when sub-sections of Yahoo started asking for something similar for public comments.
As for the Olympics, the brands that came out on top for most spam are Samsung, who generated three times more spam than anyone else – both positive and negative – and Adidas bringing up a close second place. Holiday Inn came in dead last – their name was almost no spam at all. Risher attributes Holiday Inn’s lackluster performance in the spam Olympics by saying, “When you’re a relatively vanilla brand, spammers don’t really latch on to you.”
The top countries that came out with the most vicious spam attacks against them were, in this order: Hong Kong, Kazakhstan (blame Sacha Baron Cohen), and Uruguay. As for the athletes involved in the actual Olympics, Michael Phelps and LeBron James were at the top of their games – generating the most, not so much from swimfan bots, but by humans inspired to click away with one-off hate speech and profanity. Strangely, they both placed ahead of NBC, the company that seemed to be the main target for angry commenters.
As the main spambot “you should buy this” item to be pushed into comments – where last year it was boots, this year it was shoes that generated the most spam.
All joking aside, Risher says that spam really is a serious problem, and attributes spam to being the main cause for Web 2.0 never really happened to email. But it does cause some concern for Risher, who notes that in just that last couple weeks, Fox News has drastically tightened up their commenting system – making it nearly uncommentable. That’s something Impermium’s co-founder says could signal tough times ahead for an open Internet, especially with an election on the way. Email, Risher believes, never really developed past its initial design because of all the issues surrounding privacy and companies’ focus on dealing with spam, instead of developing out their product. But as for the spammers, Risher adds, “No one really considers themselves a spammer – just a really clever Internet marketer.”
With that, here is your final list of Top 20 Countries in the Spam Olympics in order (props to Yemen for making it this year):
1. USA (by far)
8. Dominican Republic
13. Great Britain (host country)
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]