Facebook reuters

Facebook spammers are churning more than $200 million a year by posting links on fan pages, according to a report by The Guardian. The black money is generated despite Facebook's efforts to control spamming via its 'spam prevention systems'.

A team of security researchers from Italy have investigated thousands of Facebook pages and revealed that spamming on the social networking site generates an annual revenue of $202 million.

According to the team, for every annoying spam, with a phrases such as "Hey click here for a free iPhone" next to a link to a foreign site, the spammer was paid between $13 (Rs 865) to $58 (Rs 3900) depending on the number of subscribers a particular page has. The links are shortened and hence it is difficult to guess for a user whether the site is foreign or within Facebook.

There are at least 20 key sites where these spammers congregate to offer the black money.

These spammers, who most often target Facebook fan pages to gain maximum attention, also set up fake fan pages on the site to tempt the users to click on the spammed links. And who doesn't like to join a fan page? Founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg himself follows more than 200 fan pages on the social networking site.

Interestingly, Guardian also revealed how Facebook tolerates the presence of such spammers because they create highest hits for the fan pages.

"Every day I materialize funny and interesting content full of phrases and so forth that is shared and liked by thousands of users. Without the fan pages Facebook would be an empty place. Tell me how many links you see shared by your friends on your timeline every day?" one spammer explained the researchers via video conferencing.

Defending the company, a spokesperson denied the accusation and said that there are various "automated systems to identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading."

They are collectively called Facebook's spam prevention systems that the company first talked about in 2010. In the meantime, Facebook also admitted that it is impossible to keep all the spamming activity in check.

"With billions of pieces of content being shared on Facebook every month and bad actors constantly targeting the people who use Facebook, preventing spam isn't easy," Caroline Ghiossi, an associate on Facebook's user operations team, had said in 2010.

The Italian security team had also revealed the multimillion-pound business of selling fake Twitter followers in April this year. As per their report, there were at least 20 million fake followers on the micro-blogging site.