– Tech Connoisseur

Twitter update removes spam users

Posted in controversy, Social Networking by Anthony (Tony) Emerson on July 24, 2009

Apparently, Twitter removed all of the spam followers yesterday, possibly inadvertently removing some legitimate users as well. Personally, I only lost about 10, all of which were (as far as I can tell) spammers.

Twitter is making an effort to combat spam accounts… Obviously, they didn’t go through and hand pick millions of fake accounts, so there must have been some type of standard for throwing them out. I’d say that users with less than 10 posts, more than half of which contained links, who follow 20 times more than they are followed – these may have been the metrics for who got thrown out. Who knows? I realize that more than a few sources are saying that the majority of the followers got removed, including some definitely legitimate ones, but I haven’t heard of any actual person complaining that their (non-spam) account was deleted.

…but they did it with poor communication. We’re left to guess about how Twitter distinguished spam accounts from real users. There’s a blog post on Twitter Status, but it’s short and obtuse:

“In particular, those with large followings may see significant changes as we correct for spam accounts and data inconsistencies.”

The phrase “data inconsistencies” strikes me as so ridiculously vague, I get the impression that Twitter as a company doesn’t know how obsessive their users are about followers. “Spammers Perish” and “How Many Followers” are trending topics about which hundreds of thousands of Twitterers are talking. The tone of the conversations is generally irritated, and more than a few nasty blog posts have already been published about the topic.

The questions that remain (for Twitter as a company to answer… soon) are:

  1. How did you decide which accounts to delete?
  2. Did any real accounts really get deleted?
  3. Is this the beginning of a larger initiative or did you just do one massive sweep? Will it be harder to make an account now?
  4. Using these same strategies, could Twitter one day be fully spam free?
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