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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter spam’

What Is Social Media Spam? [INFOGRAPHIC]

The roots of spam, which is the use of electronic systems to send unsolicited, bulk messages, can be traced back to the mid 1990s, when the internet first started to become affordable to the general public.

Beginning with email, spam rapidly spread to new technologies, such as instant messaging, newsgroups and mobile phones. As social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter became increasingly popular, spam quickly found a new home.

Numbers are on the rise, too. Last year, the estimated figure for total spam messages sent  across all technologies was seven trillion. But what is social media spam, and how can you spot it?

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Twitter Is Getting Serious About Battling Spam

If you follow iconic Twitter account @TweetSmarter, you have no doubt noticed the abundance of scams and spam hitting Twitter lately. But while TweetSmarter tries to alert you to the latest scams, they can’t cover it all – which is why Twitter itself needs to step up its spam-fighting efforts.
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Isn’t It Time You Fall Clean Your Twitter Feed?

I know, I know. You’ve got to go through your email, clean up the living room before company arrives and then there’s the matter of that stack of receipts you should really sort for taxes… but I promise it won’t take too long to clean up your twitter feed by using any of the following tools.

To really get the most out of your fall cleaning, remove people that are no longer on twitter and unfollow those who only talk about how much they love to shop or recount every moment of their day (“I am going to pick up lunch now, then I’m hitting the gym. Be back in an hour.”).

Here’s how: Read more

Are Twitter’s New Email Notifications Cluttering Up Your Inbox? Here’s How To Turn Them Off

Last night Twitter announced an update to their notifications system so that you now get an email each time somebody that you follow retweets or favourites one of your tweets.

Email notifications have been a huge boon for Facebook because they keep those all-important users coming back to the platform again, and again, and again. For Twitter, which has always had a problem converting and keeping new signups, this could and should be huge. When you’re beginning your journey on a social network, you positively yearn for attention. An email letting you know that somebody has connected with you in some way is very welcome.

But what about people who aren’t new? What about those people who get dozens and dozens of replies, retweets and favourites each and every day? What about those people who don’t like email notifications from Facebook, and have long-since turned them off? And what about those people who consistently strive for the ever-desirable inbox zero?

If that sounds like you, then Twitter’s notifications are a total pain in the derriere, falling somewhere between clutter and spam. Here’s how to get rid of them.

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Twitter Bots Aren’t Just for Spammers Anymore

The @TwitterSuggests account has been around for a few months, tweeting nearly 200k recommendations of “interesting” users to follow so far. And yes, it has received some press from famous misfires recommending everything from dormant accounts to some very NSFW accounts. A quick sampling of today’s timeline from @TwitterSuggests still shows accounts without a tweet since 2009, accounts with only a couple of tweets and tweeters with quite a bit of adult content being “officially” recommended. It makes one wonder where these suggestions come from because they obviously aren’t screened by actual humans.
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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.)

Twitter Cuts Percentage Of Tweets Containing Spam From 11% To 1% In Six Months

An impressive-looking chart from Twitter which, if it is to be believed, warrants a deserved round of applause. In just six months, spam on the network has been slashed from around 11 per cent of all tweets, to just one.

Twitter Cuts Percentage Of Tweets Containing Spam From 11% To 1% In Six Months

(Read more at the Twitter blog.)

Are you seeing less spam? I’m not so sure it’s as dramatic as the graph would imply, but I’ve certainly noticed a difference in trending topics of late, which used to be almost entirely overwhelmed by spammy tweets looking to take advantage of the sudden popularity of a subject.

That said, reply spam is still an issue. And I’m pretty confident that direct message spam is not included here, as I’ve seen almost no improvement in this at all in my test accounts.

Of course, if you rarely venture into trending topics and maintain an optimised network, spam has likely never been much of an issue for you. But it should give us all confidence that Twitter has made this effort and seen these kinds of results.

You’ve Got Twittermail

The direct message system on Twitter is a mess. The more people you follow, especially in any kind of automated fashion, the more spam, mass marketing messages, irrelevant junk and good, old-fashioned weirdness you attract to your inbox. And while it’s admirable to follow others on Twitter so they can contact you via this method, the work involved in managing all that noise to find any signal of worth verges on a full-time job.

For some, especially those who follow thousands of users, the alternative is to simply ignore everything that is sent to them via DM. That’s not a positive outcome for anybody.

Ideally, Twitter would scrap the direct message feature and start over, building something that worked a lot more like email. Facebook’s private messaging system isn’t world-class, but it’s significantly better than what we have on Twitter. Being able to group more than one person into private Twitter conversations would be worth the price of admission alone. It would also be nice if we weren’t limited to 160 characters.

Alternatively, this is a fantastic opportunity for a really creative app coder. I’d love to see somebody port all that direct message API over to a standalone Twittermail website that worked a bit like Gmail, and gave us labels, starring, threading and – vitally – a spam filter, then I think they’d be sitting on a product that was valuable enough to warrant a (modest) price tag.

An intelligent spam filter (that came with its own folder) would be huge. Like Gmail (or Akismet), the filter would have built-in knowledge, and learn from the Twitter collective about repeat offenders, bots and trolls. You’d also be able to tailor the filter to your own liking. You’d switch off your DM notifications from Twitter, and manage everything at your new favourite website.

Hey, maybe this could even be ported into Gmail, and we’d let that do all the work.

We need Twittermail. You need it. Competent and manageable private messaging is a must for any network. Legitimate connections have immense value, but if you have to work too hard to find them many people will simply give up trying altogether.

10 Cool Things YOU Can Do Today To Improve Twitter For Tomorrow

It’s early Monday morning. You’re tired after a weekend that was long on thrills but short on recovery. You log on to Twitter, but you just don’t have the energy. What to do, what to do?

Fear not: here are ten things you can do on Twitter today – or any day – that will massively improve your experience on the network.

  1. Help your friends understand how to use Twitter. Email them the link to my Twitter 101 tutorials, or if they’re already on Twitter, hook them up with tips to help newcomers hit the ground running.
  2. Learn how to defend yourself from spammers, trolls and automated direct messages.
  3. Understand why everybody needs a follow policy – eliminate those phony followers.
  4. Want to get more retweets? Memorise your retweet number (and sharpen your pencil)!
  5. Take a minute to fill in the description box on your Twitter lists – it really does make the feature significantly richer and lists with descriptions are going to attract more followers. (And yes – I mean all of your lists!)
  6. Fight Club celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this week – find out what Tyler Durden can teach you about Twitter
  7. Start a conversation with a total stranger – that’s what puts the social in ‘social media’.
  8. Play around with the new retweet mechanism – while it’s not currently as good as the organic and original RT@ function, it’s here to stay, and will come with improvements in the future (including edits).
  9. Take a Twitter poll! For example, how do you rate Twitter’s technical support? Would you pay $1 a month to access Twitter? How many celebrities to do you follow? What reasons do you need to block somebody? What kind of avatar do you like to see?
  10. Having problems? Learn how you can submit a help ticket to Twitter.

BONUS: please, please, please – don’t be a metweeter.

What are you waiting for? Get stuck in!

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