Twitter Spam

Spam is hitting Twitter. Correction: spam is hitting Twitter users.

Spammers know they get one chance to spam: Twitter sends an e-mail to each person that a spammer follows, inviting them to check out the spammer’s profile. The spammer’s profile likely has a single tweet containing a single spam link. Spammers set up multiple Twitter accounts and follow thousands.

There are available solutions to the problem:

  • Watch who’s getting blocked. I block all spammers who try to follow me and I’m not the only one. After an account has been blocked X times, Twitter should review it. I believe Twitter is already doing this.
  • Make it more difficult to follow someone (more clicks, captcha, solve a math problem, etc.) Make it so spammers can’t use bots. For that matter, use something like Asirra or myVidoop’s login procedure. Easy for a human to do, but takes a little human time, increasing the cost.
  • Allow users to autofilter or autoblock people. For example, I’d like to block without receiving notification anyone who is following more than 1,000 people and has less than 50 followers. Allow me to modify those numbers so spammers don’t have a known system to game.

Twitter should choose its anti-spam tactics carefully. Spammers’ responses could make future spam detection even more difficult. For example, limiting the number of follows or follows per day has no impact on the number of followers a spammer could do per day — it only limits the number of followers per account. (After all, nothing limits a spammer to having a single active Twitter account.) As a consequence, a spammer account would have fewer follows, making them harder to detect.

Update. Twitter responds to spam.

Hat tip: Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb.

Author: Brent Logan

Engineer. Lawyer. WordPress geek. Longboarder. Blood donor. Photographer. More about Brent.

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