Avoiding Twitter Spammers

8 Comments 01 July 2009

It is a well-known and much lamented fact that twitter attracts spammers.

When I first joined twitter, it felt like a small town. Perhaps everyone didn’t know everyone else, but at most people were one or two degrees removed.

As long as someone didn’t come in and try to add the whole community at once, people were patient with newcomers. And even most of the better known twitter users would respond back if you asked a question.

Utopias never seem to last long though, and unfortunately spammers soon discovered twitter.

The first spammers were easy to spot, they’d be following thousands of people with only a few hundred follow backs (usually from people who used auto-follow software).

After a while, spammers learned other tricks, including following a rush of people and then unfollowing any who didn’t follow back, then repeating the whole process. This built their stats up to a respectable level fairly quickly, so they could start drawing followers on their own.

Another trick that was sometimes used was to follow a large number of people, then unfollow all of them, then repeat. This tactic has been seen more and more, especially since Twitter set limits of following 1000 people a day and up to 2000 people to start, increasing to 10% of the number of people who are following you once you’re over 2000.

Because of the rush of spammers, I’ve complained before that it seems like maybe 1 out of every 10 new followers is actually a real person. I’d even considered going private if something wasn’t done soon.

Finally, someone did something about it.

Yesterday, two things happened to help free me from twitter spam. I received my invite to use Topify (Yay!) and I saw Todd Jordan (@tojosan on Twitter) discussing TwitChuck.

First, let me say that it is worth however long you have to wait to get an invite to Topify. And yes, there likely will be a wait (it’s that good!), but sign up anyway.

Once you get the invite, Topify will ask for your e-mail and make sure it’s you, then give you a new e-mail via Topify to enter on your Twitter account.

Because a picture often truly is worth a thousand words, I’m going to show (instead of tell) you what happens when you add Topify to Twitter.

The usual Twitter notification message. Doesn’t really tell you much, does it.

Topify’s notification message. Note the e-mail header that gives stats without having to open the e-mail, and the last updates so you don’t need to visit their page.

What to do while you wait for your Topify invite

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send out a mass message to spammers telling them to wait a couple weeks until you get your invite before following. :) Second best, of course, would be an easy way to check to see if someone is a spammer.

That’s where TwitChuck comes in.

Simply fill in the name of the person you’re wondering about, and TwitChuck goes through a surprisingly detailed list to arrive at their spam grade.

Odds are twitter will never lose all the spammers, but it’s nice no longer feeling like if I don’t check into every follow notification, there’s a chance that I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Gwen Sutton says:

    really liked the article, very informative. G

  2. Kelly Brown says:

    Thank you! This will be soooooooo helpful!

  3. Maria says:

    Thanks for the information. I hope Twitter implements a default filter of sort in the future. But I look forward to trying this.

  4. Tonya Moore says:

    Wow - I’m amazed that all fo these great solutions were out there and I hadn’t even tried one yet. This will go far to eliminate one of my biggest headaches yet. I signed up for a Topify invite. Hopefully, they’ll be releasing invites sometime soon. Either way - I don’t mind waiting if it works so well.

  5. Norman says:

    Very informative post keep up the great work!

  6. hey kristen just found your blog via alltop.

    i’m just getting into the social media scene, trying to learn all i can about it.

    i started a blog to promote my newest book, grace and guts, but my heart is to connect with people and build relationships.

    i’d welcome any constructive feedback or tips that you might have!


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    […] not to say that there are spammers on Twitter. In fact, it’s a growing problem. But we have a choice in whether or not we follow the spammers. […]

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