Facebook links posted by spammers that link to third-party scam sites make around $200 million a year, say researchers.
The findings from the Italian team, posted on The Guardian, also revealed that almost 10 per cent of the dodgy links used Google AdSense – which means that Google receives part of the money earned by the spammers.
Carlo De Micheli, one of the leaders of the security researchers, told The Guardian that posters “get paid an average of $13 per post, for pages that have around 30,000 fans, up to an average of $58 to post on pages with more than 100,000 fans.”
Balancing out the highest earning pages – estimated to net nearly $400 million yearly – with the less popular links, the approximate earnings of the scammers was just above $200 million annually.
The opportunity for profit from spam is so high that some people offer their spam-posting services for sale – including a page commemorating victims of the Boston Marathon bombing attacks up for sale for $1000.
The researchers found a selection of 20 high-profile sites, which attracted the highest number of individuals offering to post spam on them.
Di Micheli’s group of spam-busters were the same group who back in April explored the business surrounding sales of fake Twitter followers. The false popularity deals included one site offering a million fake followers for $1,000, with the whole business valuing between $40 and $360 million.