40% Of Amazon's Mechanical Turk Is Spam

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Photo: Associated Press

One of Amazon‘s most interesting and quirky products is Mechanical Turk, an “artificial artificial intelligence” platform: you pay small amounts of money for a bunch of humans to do a bunch of rote tasks that feel like they should be done by a computer but that computers can’t do. Think of sorting through databases, labelling things, etc.In an obvious-in-hindsight development, it seems that a lot of the activity on Mechanical Turk is to create spam. Spammers are paying workers on Mechanical Turk to create spam elsewhere on the web like fake blog comments, dummy accounts on social networks to like or follow accounts, filling out lead gen forms, etc.

How much? Over 40% of the jobs on Mechanical Turk are for spam, according to a new study by an NYU professor and two graduate students. Ironically, they used Mechanical Turk to label requests on Mechanical Turk as spam and non-spam, and it turns out spam is over 40% of the jobs on Mechanical Turk.

Now the question is: what’s Amazon going to do about it?

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