Online Dating Spam Out of Control on YouTube

(May 30, 2012) YouTube has lost control of its online dating content as tens of thousands of spam videos are allowed to clog up YouTube’s online dating searches without consequences. YouTube’s inability to allow users to report a member/channel for mass spamming has resulted in thousands of spam accounts and tens of thousands of spam videos thriving on YouTube.

Here’s how the process works:

1) A fake user account is created (usually by a bot)
2) The same video edited to different lengths (to avoid being “flagged”) is uploaded to the account.
3) Each video contains a different misleading titled that deals with online dating.
4) The video shows a link to a dating service throughout the video and the link is also displayed in the video description.

The spammers gain traffic through uploading thousands of the same video, over a period of time, with different titles/search terms which have nothing to do with the video. The goal is to get duped visitors to click the link in the description when they go to the page.

More than a year ago, the Online Dating Industry Journal reported on the growing problem and many accounts mentioned in that report are still live on YouTube. In addition, last week the Online Dating News Blog listed spam accounts, all of which were still active as of this writing.

To see how the problem works, here are some links to a few spam accounts you can visit:


Thousands of these type of accounts exist, including many that more than a year old. This problem highlights YouTube’s inability to effectively combat spam on its service.  The more spammers get away with it, the more they clog up the service with additional spam videos. Here’s an example of a recent “online dating” search, sorted by Upload Date, in which the first 17 (of 20) results were spam videos like this (image courtesy of Online Dating News Blog):

YouTube Online Dating Spam

YouTube relies on computers and electronic “patterns” to try and detect spam. But as has been shown time and again, people find away around those limitations and because YouTube doesn’t allow users/channels to be reported for mass spamming, the spam videos are allowed to thrive on YouTube. Contributing to the problem is that when a video is flagged from one of these accounts, only the video is eventually removed and not the account. Human checkers need to look at accounts, not just individual videos, but they don’t and that causes the problem to grow.

Online dating isn’t the only category that faces successful mass spamming. Online Dating Magazine calls on YouTube to address the problem by allowing users/channels to be reported for mass spamming and by having checkers look at accounts of flagged videos, not just the video.

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