open letter to Yahoo Groups since, at that time, they were the most abused free services used by spammers.
Over the course of many months, several of my colleagues and I assisted Yahoo's abuse teams to rectify the problem, and now they have a very accurate filtering system in place, as well as other means of stopping mass registrations of new Yahoo Groups entries.
Well here we are, only 8 months later, and we're seeing the same abuse happening on MSN Live Spaces, Microsoft's social media portal.
To be clear, the abuse of MSN Live Spaces has been going on at least as long as Yahoo Groups abuse, but it's only recently that we've seen a noticeable increase in the use of MSN Live Spaces Links in spam messages. For the accounts that I monitor, I'm talking about at least a 500% increase. For friends of mine, the increase is even higher than that. On average I now see over 180 messages every day which feature these links.
Some of my colleagues have had mild success in contacting members of MSN support regarding this. To date there has been only a tiny response to this problem, and the barrage is only increasing.
MSN's abuse process for reporting one single, individual offending MSN Live Spaces account is to fill out a form located here, manually entering as much information as the user can find out about the link, and including information which I guarantee the user will not know at all, such as which MSN account was the creator of the Spaces account in the first place.
Filling out that form for one offending URL is fine, if you're only receiving, say, one or two per day. Nobody I know is receiving fewer than 40 or more of these every single day. This is far from an intuitive method of reporting abuse.
All attempts to contact MSN Spaces abuse teams directly, including via this abuse form, has been met with no response, and no feedback on what happened to my report. In most cases, URL's I have reported remain alive several days or weeks later.
MSN Spaces: Wake up!
previously mentioned) "Marmeladies.com" fake Russian Dating scam, but many more recent examples seem to focus on "Elite World Casino", another bogus online casino, possibly featuring malware in its installer software. Other newer spam messages I'm monitoring are now also promoting a Korean-hosted "Auto Warranty Source" website, currently hosted at americanwarrantyexpress.com, but of course that URL changes weekly. It's the same affiliate ID every time, however. This turns out to be a scammy US-only auto-insurance operation promoted by the Russia-based "AffZoo.com" affiliate program.
Prior to this month, the #2 type of spam abusing this service was for "Downloadable Software", a site which sells counterfeit versions of Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and a variety of other popular software titles. The software these sites provide is known to contain malware and will cause your Windows computer to join one or another known botnet, operated by criminals, and actively engaging in illegal activity. MSN Live Spaces was likely chosen as the free-hosting solution for this spam because it's a Microsoft portal, so it would make these patently illegal software websites appear to have an air of legitimacy. I reported some 300 of these in the past two months. Only a very small portion of those URLs were ever shut down. (I just checked again and several dating back to January are still active.)
The point is: MSN is not doing anything about this. It's been going on for at least a full year now, and it's only getting worse. The abuse form provided to users is only going to be used by those who really want to spend a lot of time reporting one single URL. People receiving anything like the same deluge I'm seeing aren't going to bother, and of course MSN offers no bulk-reporting service whatsoever.
An obvious suggestion would be to have a quick, easy-to-click link that reports the MSN Live Spaces URL that you are currently viewing, and there you go. Done. Click on it, provide some details about why you think it's scammy, and submit. Blogger does this. Google Pages does this. Numerous types of forum software do this. MSN Live Spaces does not. Why?
Given that so far only 1% or less of my abuse reports have seen any kind of action taken; I believe it is safe to say that MSN effectively has no abuse process for this issue. As far as I'm concerned, I could block all inbound email messages featuring a "spaces.live.com" URL, and my spam would drop by at least two thirds. I know I'm not the only one thinking this, and already at least one spam blocklist has indeed flagged spaces.live.com as featuring a large amount of spammy URLs.
What will it take for MSN to address this problem? Why isn't anyone from MSN Live Spaces responding to any abuse complaints? Why has there been absolutely no modifications to their abuse form in well over a year, given that this problem has only increased?
I'd like to encourage readers of this posting to provide feedback directly to the MSN Live Spaces team, using their feedback form, especially if you, like me, are continuing to see the majority of your inbound spam messages featuring MSN Live Spaces links. This has to stop.
SiL / IKS / concerned citizen