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Posts Tagged ‘@delbius’

Twitter’s Del Harvey On The Evolution Of Spam And ‘Accidentally’ Suspending Biz Stone And Evan Williams

The Guardian has a great interview piece with Twitter’s resourceful (and ever-upbeat) Del Harvey, who in her two-and-a-half years at the social platform has gone from tackling a moderate spam issue on Twitter all by herself, to becoming the lead of a rapidly-expanding and continuously-challenged Trust & Safety team.

The biggest problem? As her team has grown, so has the size – and intellectual evolution – of the spammers themselves.

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Don’t Overuse Old-Style Retweets Unless You’re A Spammer, Says Twitter (Plus 9 More Official Tips)

Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) has been attending his own Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in San Jose, California, and Twitter’s Trust & Safety team lead Del Harvey (@delbius) was the key speaker in a section entitled, Don’t Be A Twitter Spammer.

Sullivan is moderating the piece and has been live-tweeting Harvey’s comments, which are interesting, provocative and, in a few cases, more than a little controversial.

Some of Delbius’s tips are well-known and even obvious, but others are definitely new statements being made by Twitter, and there are items here that require further debate and investigation.

Don’t Be A Twitter Spammer

  1. Twitter doesn’t try to judge content but if it observes a given user being blocked repeatedly, the spam team may step in to investigate further
  2. Avoid using multiple accounts to send the exact same message
  3. Don’t spam hashtags
  4. Don’t use misleading links
  5. Avoid reply spam
  6. Don’t churn – manually or especially through the use of apps
  7. While automated DMs aren’t expressly forbidden, Twitter recommends avoiding them because they’re unpopular and lead to complaints, which results in Twitter stepping in
  8. Sponsored tweets must be disclosed by US law
  9. If you’ve been unfairly tagged as a spammer, ask for help. (“I’m super into forgiveness,” says Delbius, as the medium is so new)
  10. Avoid doing lots of old-style, manual retweets – the main reason Twitter’s internal retweet system was created was because of so many complaints about fake retweets (which, admittedly, are an ongoing problem), and it can appear to be reply spam to Twitter

This final tip is by far and away the most controversial (UPDATED: see below). Like many users, I’m a huge fan of old-style retweets because they allow you to add your own flavour and commentary. I do retweet using the new method from time to time, but only if the content is perfect as-is, which to be honest is pretty rare.

The cynic in me wonders if this statement has been made less out of truth and actual, bonafide advice, and more because Twitter is frustrated that so many users loathe and (in an awful lot of cases) completely avoid the new-style retweet. And so by introducing an element of risk they might hope to move people over in a shorter period of time. To be safe it might pay to be a little wary, although you’d think if they were really concerned they’d compromise and introduce optional annotation. But that would mean admitting they made a mistake – humility hasn’t been Twitter’s most well-played card.

On the upside, Delbius advises asking questions and retweeting items of interest to your followers, and generally being authentic. These are all plusses in the eyes of Twitter, particularly their spam team.

Also, curiously, Delbius mentioned the Miracle Whip (@miraclewhip) Twitter account as an example of an entity that is doing it right. Which, on an initial inspection, seems a little strange. But at least she didn’t go with the obvious. Or Charlie Sheen.

Lots to learn from here, and in our few interactions I’ve always found Delbius very reliable, but it might be worth taking some of these statements with a pinch of salt until they’re backed up with similar remarks from other members of the Twitter elite.

UPDATE: @Delbius has reached out to me on Twitter and clarified my concerns about the old-style retweets, as follows:


Something about it didn’t sound right, and I’m glad we’ve got that straightened out. The rest of her presentation is definitely worth taking on board. Unless, of course, you are a spammer, in which case you won’t care, and probably won’t be reading this.

(Hat tips: Danny Sullivan, Del Harvey.)