I read this morning that 40% of all social media accounts are held by spammers.

Cue ominous music … or Monty Python skits.

Humor aside, what is the average Facebook or Pinterest user supposed to do with this information?

First of all. let’s put the statistic into perspective. According to Symantec, in 1990 90% of all e-mail was spam. By 2011 it was down to 69%.

And I’ve read that 40-90% of all mail delivered by the USPS is junk mail.

So while 40% of user accounts being held by spammers does seem high, it is expected. And no matter what the companies do to prevent it, I do promise, it will continue to rise with the medium’s popularity.

So what’s a user to do?

Just like the idea of avoiding the use of e-mail or the USPS are not viable solutions, the avoidance of using social media to avoid the spam is not a viable solution either.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are all fighting the spammers (talk about job security), but we need to do our part as well.

The US Army has shared great steps on protecting yourself on Facebook (it’s all about your security settings).

  1. Friends only
  2. Less Sharing
  3. Personal Protection
  4. App Remover
  5. Limited Access
  6. Don’t Take it Personal
  7. Stealth Mode
  8. Good Networking
  9. Don’t Become a Target

Virtuoso has steps to protect you on Twitter.

  1. Never ever ever open a link in a tweet (mention) or a direct message from someone you don’t know.
  2. Never believe that someone has written an awful blog post about you or that their friend has posted a terrible photo of you on line. They haven’t!
  3. Never login to your Twitter account unless it says https://twitter.com or http://twitter.com in the URL
  4. Change your password regularly and use a complex combination of words and numbers.
  5. Report and block spam users
  6. Follow @safety and @spam to keep up to date with recent trends in spam attacks on Twitter.

(please click through to both posts for details)

LinkedIn spam is, first of all, about the malware, so don’t click on anything from anyone you don’t know. And protecting LinkedIn Groups from spam means more moderator administration and care, but group members need to do their part and REPORT the spam.

We’ll never get rid of spam. When it only came in the mail, it was just annoying and something with which to line the bird cages. But in its digital form, digitally it can cause great personal and professional harm to personal reputations, professional brands, computer hardware, bank accounts, software systems, etc.

We can, however, minimize the risk, by using common sense, employing security filters, and resisting the urge to click.