MySpace confronts spammers: AOTA Keynote

Spamming is a huge issue online, and as soon as a new technology comes in to block it, it seems another spammer has popped up with a new way to sneak illegal messaging in. But this doesn’t stop industry leaders from fighting back in a number of ways to make sure consumers are protected and that their sites are not compromised.

In yesterday’s keynote at the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance’s conference in Seattle, “Fighting cybercrime and protecting business and consumers: What is working together and how business and government need to work together,” Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer at Fox Interactive and MySpace, discussed his strategy for keeping MySpace a safe place for its billions of users.

“People don’t just come to MySpace to interact with MySpace content, they come to interact with other users, so it is our job to make sure that they do so in a safe environment,” he said.

This begins with back-end technology that weeds out spammers and unethical users, but also goes into education. “It used to be that you had to educate the security team — now you have to educate the consumers,” Nigam said.

A MySpace user can blog, post bulletins, write on message boards, instant message, place classifieds and events and join groups. The social networking giant is using these channels for the educational efforts with pages including Another way that MySpace is educating consumers is through Tom, the founder of and first friend on MySpace. He updates safety and security blogs and posts bulletins about specific phishing and spamming risks. “Everybody trusts Tom on MySpace,” Nigam said. 

The social giant also works with others in the industry, forging partnerships with other companies and the FTC to make a safe neighborhood online.

“It is our duty to give back to the rest of the Internet to let people know when we have identified a phishing site. We have partnered with Microsoft and Symantec and are active in the AntiPhishing Working Group,” Nigam added.

MySpace also works with law enforcement to identify registered sex offenders and to outline online safety principles, as well as to prosecute spammers.

“It’s not just about blocking, we want the message to be, ‘don’t go to MySpace if you are going to participate in illegal activity,’” Nigam said.

The site won $230 million in a CAN-SPAM suit against Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines.

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