{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Twitter is a wonderful service. But it isn't perfect. The popular microblogging service is increasingly the target of spam techniques that threaten the service's utility and value.

Here the the seven techniques that spammers are employing on Twitter...

Hashtag/Trending Topics Spam


If you're a spammer looking to reach an audience on Twitter, one of the easiest ways is to attach your ad to a popular hashtag or Trending Topic phrase. As you can see, the ad above has nothing to do with #iranelection.

Follower Spam

Spammers increasingly set up fake accounts to mass-follow other Twitter users. Oftentimes, they use provocative avatars (in violation of the 10 Twitter Commandments) and leave a spam tweet as their most recent so that it is visible to the followed when they view their followers.

Affiliate Spam

Thanks to companies like Magpie, which is responsible for the above ad, Twitter has become a platform for affiliate marketing. Of course, much of the affiliate marketing that takes place is not disclosed as such and is promulgated by accounts that are clearly bots.

Viral Spam

Businesses eager to use Twitter for marketing purposes are increasingly employing viral techniques to spread their messages. Oftentimes this involves hashtag spam, resulting in the hashtag appearing on the Trending Topics list and further propelling the 'campaign'. #squarespace and #moonfruit are two recent examples of the viral spam that has infected Twitter and it's worth pointing out that a number of applications that are built around Twitter leverage this technique as well.

DM/Autoresponder Spam


It's one of the more annoying forms of Twitter spam: you follow someone only to receive a DM autoresponse that's spammier than the 200 spam emails you had to delete when you opened your email in the morning.

Self-Promotional Spam

There's a fine line between healthy self-promotion and self-promotional spam. What's spam to me may not be spam to you. That said, it's hard to dismiss the fact that there's plenty of self-promotion taking place on Twitter and it's easy to tire of it, especially when it's of the 'RT pls' kind (another violation of the 10 Twitter Commandments).

Profile Spam

There's nothing inherently wrong with commercial profiles on Twitter; there are plenty of them. But some of them are spammy.

Take @NissanWarranty, which is apparently run by a company that is authorized by Nissan North America to sell extended warranties for Nissan automobiles. @NissanWarranty isn't tweeting much of value and is following nearly 2,000 people despite the fact that it has only 548 followers (I'm one of the lucky Twitterers who was followed for no apparent reason).

While this may be a perfect example of a company using Twitter poorly as opposed to being outright malicious, Twitter is no different than email: if you don't follow best practices, you're going to be considered by many to be 'spamming'.

Twitter Needs to Get Spam Under Control

If you have a Twitter account, chances are you've personally encountered the seven types of Twitter spam techniques. From what I can tell, spam on Twitter is proliferating at a rapid pace and it threatens the peaceful enjoyment of the service.

What's so disconcerting to me is that much of this spam is clearly the work of automated processes (bots, etc.) and it's hard to believe that Twitter is powerless to stop it. Detecting accounts that have been created by bots should not be the most difficult task Twitter has faced, nor should it be especially difficult for Twitter to use the same approach it uses with Trending Topics to detect spam tweets. Additionally, it's quite surprising that Twitter hasn't yet implemented functionality that would give every user the ability to report spam profiles and tweets.

Which begs the question: when one of the metrics that your investors value most is the "tweet view", who cares about spam?

Patricio Robles

Published 15 July, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2343 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Alex Hardie

Some very valid points here. I have to say I find the hashtag very useful. In fact, in the spirit of sharing on the platform, I used it this morning to tweet about an event I'd become aware of. I knew it would be relevent to #designers #graphicdesign. So, as you say, one tweeter's spam is another tweeter's corned beef. And we all know there's a difference :-)

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mandy

Very concise and to the point. Thanks!

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Liam Tohms

I have to agree and disagree with the points. Blatant spam is tedious and nobody likes it, however there are valid reasons for bots to exist. I've written a few myself and use them to scour news sources and post breaking news on a particular subject. There is zero advertising or spam, just a useful tweetfeed of info. I've also mashed up bots that link trending items to products on e.g. Amazon as some tweeters suggested this is something they would like to see.

I do check all feedback and DMs and post to them manually so my accounts are not totally impersonal bots and people do like this.

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

maps4pets

We are raising funds for animal charities and are a not-for-profit website, so need all the help we can get. Therefore using the hashtag can be very useful.

We do not overdo it though.

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Daniel Honey

I am becoming a blockaholic at the moment thanks to the increase of spam on Twitter. I'm an adult, but what of a kid using Twitter who innocently clicks on a new follower to be asked if he wants to see their 'ahem' pics.

As Twitter rises in popularity, this can only become an increasing and annoying Twiiter trait. The bods in San Fran need to get on top of this and nip it in the bub.

I set up a Twitition (Twitter petition) to push this matter to the forefront. Please have a look and sign if you agree. http://twitition.com/o235n

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ambarish Mitra

Those seven sins are well covered in this blog, though there are quite a few sins left which need readers attention like CONs. The typical money transfer from Nigeria or clueless con where people talk about existing facts and redefine them to take them to whole new level of stupidity.

Many spammers make leading questions like "is it safe to....?" and then recommend them a product link to prove that its safe.

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sandeep

Yes, Twitter is becoming a spam tool this days. I am fred up of deleting direct messages and so atlast closed the twitter account.

Thanks for posting the sins.

Regards

Sandeep

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Roger Warner, Online PR & Social Media Agency C&M

Thanks for a dash of clarity Alex Hardie. I’m with you… Twitter #hastags make for a good corned beef sandwich.

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nigel Morgan

Excellent summary of what annoys us on Twitter! My Twitter address is @Nigel_Morgan and almost daily I discover I am following people who are not following me - hit and run, where they use my auto follow to get me to follow and then unfollow me! Grrr!

I regularly report spammers to Twitter by forwarding the offending Tweet to @Spam and that has seen a few accounts disappear, so I think they are trying, but like you have said, they must try harder.

almost 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

PASSIONEL.COM

Very informative details - please keep us all updated - i will subscribe to your blog

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

maps4pets

More great articles please.

over 6 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.