Examining the Demand for Spam: Who Clicks?

Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)

By: Brian Waismeyer, Elissa M. Redmiles, Neha Chachra


Despite significant advances in automated spam detection, some spam content manages to evade detection and engage users. While the spam supply chain is well understood through previous research, there is little understanding of spam consumers. We focus on the demand side of the spam equation examining what drives users to click on spam via a largescale analysis of de-identified, aggregated Facebook log data (n=600,000). We find (1) that the volume of spam and clicking norms in a users’ network are significantly related to individual consumption behavior; (2) that more active users are less likely to click, suggesting that experience and internet skill (weakly correlated with activity level) may create more savvy consumers; and (3) we confirm previous findings about the gender effect in spam consumption, but find this effect largely corresponds to spam topics. Our findings provide practical insights to reduce demand for spam content, thereby affecting spam profitability.