Research Desk: Twitter Spam

Twitter Spam has been a topic of fevered discussion for at least the past year, from a number of different writers and social media gurus.

Before we get into the details, it’s important to note that the team at Twitter does a lot to cut back on spam. In fact, the most vile kind of tweetspams containing links to malicious code are actively discovered and removed by the twitter staff.

What’s left is:
Behavioral Spam – tweets that are annoying because they are part of a behavioral pattern. The best example is the dreaded direct message with a link to a get rich quick scheme. Behavioral spams annoy because of how the message is sent. A new kind of behavioral spam –– paid tweets –– are beginning to show up in the stream.

Content Spam – tweets that are pushed out you really, really could live with out. Links to pornography, affiliate marketing tweets and so on. Content spam on twitter is annoying because of what the tweet says or links to.

It’s also important to understand a couple of things about Twitter:

  1. The most effective way to gain followers on Twitter is celebrity. If you aren’t on the A list, then your best bet to get lots of followers is refollowing (which yields 200-400 new followers per day even with the current daily follow caps) and participating in the conversation.  Twitterazis – Don’t get upset.Refollowing is one of the most cited forms of Twitter Spam, and while it’s effective, it’s generally frowned upon.
  2. Twitter is a conversational social network. People join and engage to be a part of the conversation. Since Twitter does not set the rules on what the conversation is about like a discussion forum, nearly anything goes.
  3. Twitter makes it easy to follow and stop following people, so silencing a spammer is pretty easy until you’re following so many people you can’t track them all. This is a problem because 200-300 users is probably too many.
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