Published on bearblog

YouTube Comment Spam and the Linking Non-Link

As somebody who quite often scrolls down to the comments section on YouTube (for my sins), I’m often faced with the innovative tactics that spammers use to get their comments through Google’s automated filtering and detection systems.

One method that’s somehow persisted for a few years is the linking non-link. YouTube doesn’t like comments with links in them and will often silently hide or sometimes outright refuse them. But the link-detection algorithm used in spam filtering isn’t the same one that’s used in the frontend to convert textual links into clickable hyperlinks!

So spammers craft their comments with unusual TLDs and mixed into normal-looking text. They aren’t detected as links by the filter, but their marks can still click on them as normal! This has been going on for quite a while with different iterations of TLDs and filters, but somehow Google hasn’t managed to stamp it out quite yet.

Here’s an example (Spanish language) spam comment, where the .uno domain is the bait:

spanish spam comment by a cyrillic account

I often wonder if there’s any real development effort put into spam filtering from the comment side; my guess is that as a centralised platform YouTube puts a lot more emphasis on filtering out spammy accounts. Some of my creator friends often complain about the lack of moderation tools to keep their comment sections clean - beyond deleting comments individually and the “naughty words list” that automatically hides comments there’s not really that much a creator can do.

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