Services and Tools Emerge to Fight Twitter Spam

If Twitter is not yet in the mainstream maybe someone should tell that to the spammy folks who are desperately trying to get their messages distributed on Twitter. Some Twitter users are launching tools in an attempt to fight the rise in Twitter spam. There are a few spam methods that are bothering Twitter users. One is follower spam where a Twitter user attempts to follow an exceedingly large number of people. Twitter sends out email notices when a new person is following you but there is scant information in this new follower email so people have to visit the new followers Twitter to see who they are. Another type of spammer is one that sends out lots and lots of tweets (often using popular and topical keywords) and clutters up Twitter search services like Tweetscan.. Yet another variety of Twitter spammer tries to send numerous @replies to many people in an effort to get attention.

A couple Twitters have been set-up to track spammers and Twitter spam. @OddFollow is an aptly named Twitter that watches for people following lots of people and for Twitter users following just women. @Stopthespam has been doing an excellent job tracking the Twitter spam problem.

A new service called Twitter Twerp Scan (website no longer available) will scan the list of people you follow to look for users that have a following-to-followers ratio that is equal to or greater than 1.5 to 1. You can then unfollow these "people" if you think they are spammers.

A recently launched website called the The Twitter Blacklist (website no longer available) has made a list of "known spammers and other morons on Twitter." The site uses a scale tweeted by Twitter user @evan.

Twitter Scale


The ratio idea doesn't always work and at least one noob was caught on The Twitter Blacklist. A new person may come on Twitter and follow a couple hundred Twitterers. It doesn't take long to get to that number if you are also adding Twitter news services (that generally don't follow back) and the Twitter accounts of some of your favorite blogs. It may take a while for a newbie's ratio of following-to-followers to get close to 1:1 so they may temporarily have a ratio that appears spammy. One Twitter newbie caught up in the spammy ratio was Chris Needham. Needham loved the attention and made a tshirt.

Needham Tshirt


Note: The Twitterblacklist tweeted that they aren't using titles like "Worthless Attention Whores" to identify possible spammers any longer.

Follower spam may end up being the easiest type of Twitter spam to solve. Simply adding more information about who has followed you in the emails Twitter sends would go a long way towards curbing the annoyance. Others have suggested a weekly or monthly list that contains information about new followers. Twitter could also allow people to sort their list of followers in new ways. The big future problem that will be much more difficult to eliminate are the spammers that try and fill up the Twitter search engines with spam tweets.

Posted on April 28, 2008

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