This is true also when the it is a new way for people to communicate and the they refers to spammers and advertisers.
So, is the MySpace profile to the right really the personal profile of Britney Spears or one put up by her business agents or maybe one by a random spammer?
Aaron Zinman and Judith Donath of MIT’s sociable media group have a new paper on the problem of recognizing a “friend request” on a social networking site like Facebook as coming from a false profile.
Zinman, A., Donath, J. Is Britney Spears Spam?. In Proceedings of Fourth Conference on Email and Anti-Spam, Mountain View, California, August 2-3, 2007
…We have developed a research prototype that categorizes senders into broader categories than spam/not spam using features unique to SNS. We discuss our initial experiment, and its results and implications. …
They employed a straightforward machine learning approach using features that we mostly local to a profile.
“We selected our features by thinking broadly about how people use MySpace. This includes information available on the user profile, as well as the comments written on one’s top friends’ profiles. Our choice of features reflects social trends on the site, such as the common use of easily detectable third-party content oriented towards MySpace profiles.”
It would be interesting to see how well various measures of the network structure around false and true profies serve as features. I think this is very similar to the problem of recognizing spam blogs (splogs). In our work, we’ve found that local features work well, but splogs can also be recognized by looking at the network structure as well.