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Twitter Sets Anti-Spam Measures On "Followers"
engine




msg:3721091
 1:57 pm on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

link [blog.twitter.com]
Follow spam is the act of following mass numbers of people, not because you're actually interested in their tweets, but simply to gain attention, get views of your profile (and possibly clicks on URLs therein), or (ideally) to get followed back. Many people who are seeking to get attention in this way have even created programs to do the following on their behalf, which enable them to follow thousands of people at the blink of any eye.

As you can imagine, this is a problem. In extreme cases, these automated accounts have followed so many people they've threatened the performance of the entire system. In less-extreme cases, they simply annoy thousands of legitimate users who get an email about this new follower only to find out their interest may not be entirely...sincere. On rare occasions we may see a person who is mass following and actually cares about every tweet—there is an opportunity for us to learn more about this use case and work to provide a better experience.

So, our challenge is to curb this type of behavior without interfering with non-spammy users—some of whom may just be very enthusiastic followers. What is a reasonable number of people to follow, anyway? Most users may have a hard time finding 500 accounts they are interested in—while others would think a limit of 10,000 is too low.


 

pageoneresults




msg:3721127
 2:47 pm on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

engine, great topic and one that I'm passionate about at this very moment.

What is a reasonable number of people to follow, anyway? Most users may have a hard time finding 500 accounts they are interested in—while others would think a limit of 10,000 is too low.

I joined Twitter on 2008-07-24 at 09:24 PDT. Within 72 hours I had just over 100 Followers and was Following just over 250. Since then, the Followers has exceeded the 150 mark and my Following remained pretty consistent between 200 and 250.

After about a week of being bombarded with everything from I'm Tweeting in the shower to watching 12 second commercials, you realize quickly that you have to maintain that Followers and Following list if you plan on exceeding the 150 mark. I think that is the magic number for me.

I think people Tweet while they're on the toilet and, during other activities. ;)

As of 2008-08-12 at 07:40 PDT I now have 97 Followers and am Following 102. I've kept that same ratio for the past couple of weeks and my life is somewhat back to normal. I've been able to keep the Twitter Apps closed and use just the web form. The Apps are addicting and will suck the very life from you right through your fingertips. TweetDeck is addictive!

Now that I've trimmed most of the chatter from my profile, I'm starting to like it that much more. It really is no different than IM, same damn thing with a 139 character limit, its actually 140 but 139 is my magic number. :)

Social Media in the general sense is one big popularity contest. I'm not impressed with the big numbers at all. In fact, part of my criteria for allowing Twits to view my protected updates is that they not have a large list of Followers and Following.

Oh, and I will not allow any copywriters to follow me. I've seen what they are doing with my Tweets. ;)

netmeg




msg:3721152
 3:33 pm on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well I guess this makes sense. I somehow acquired a handful of followers I don't know, and when I got the notification, I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to be following me. I mostly only use the thing to communicate with my best friend in Chicago, and a couple other people in the same line of work. It's follow spam, of course. Like all the fake friends on myspace.

pageoneresults




msg:3721162
 3:47 pm on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Note: We intend to allow you to follow at least as many people as follow you, though there are cases where that might not yet be the case. We will fix that.

That puts millions of Twits in a precarious situation. I've easily viewed over 1,000 Twitter Profiles in the past few weeks and the ratios amongst many of them are severely out of whack. I'm following (not via Twitter) one person who has about 25 Followers and Follows over 2,500. That person sells copywriting services abroad. You'd be surprised at what I've found people doing with the Twitter Public Timeline.

The Twits are hot right now! The story is viral. There are many who are not happy about the limits. I can easily tell who they are too. ;)

Rosalind




msg:3723353
 10:15 pm on Aug 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't use Twitter, so I don't know what a reasonable number would be. But I do think that placing limits on followers is a no-brainer when it comes to spam control. Almost all of the social networks suffer from some form of "friend" spam.

pageoneresults




msg:3723381
 10:53 pm on Aug 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't use Twitter, so I don't know what a reasonable number would be.

I believe I know what is reasonable for me. Around 100-150. Anything more than that and you'll develop Twitism. There is just no way that any single person could effectively Follow more than a few hundred Twits. People do it, all the time too. It just hasn't clicked for me yet.

Funny thing happened in this Anti-Spam Measure implementation. There is a person who created an application that performs this whole auto-follow routine. I believe they had numbers in the 2,000 range for Followers and Following. They got nuked and their cap is set at 666. After seeing the program in action, they deserved the mark of the beast. :)

rogerd




msg:3724113
 9:21 pm on Aug 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

It seems like being a Web 2.0 person is a full-time job - but mostly non-paying unless you are a one of a small number of celebrity bloggers.

Who has the time to read all the twitter updates, create one's own, plus read all one's feeds, update ones blogs, etc.? Oh, and participate in communities, post reviews, and so on. And then there's Web 1.0 email...

DavidKeffen




msg:3727721
 11:32 pm on Aug 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

When it comes to high numbers of followers most politician's tend to follow all of them automatically.

It's obvious that they are not listening and are using Twitter as a mouthpiece. They return the follow simply to not seem disinterested in their adoring fans.

I can understand this sort of use, and don't have a problem with it personally, but it has little real value for the average social media guru.

Having said this, a limit to the numbers you can follow seems perfectly reasonable and I don't blame Twitter, though I'm guessing that the worst of the spammers will simply move on to multiple accounts.

I'd go stark mad if I had to keep up with more than 1-2 hundred people to follow.

I'm a bit tired of the spammers, but frankly for the majority of us, the worst we get is a list of emails...after all we don't need to follow them.

pageoneresults




msg:3727774
 1:30 am on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Who has the time to read all the twitter updates, create one's own, plus read all one's feeds, update ones blogs, etc.? Oh, and participate in communities, post reviews, and so on. And then there's Web 1.0 email.

Heh! You just ran through my daily todo list. And, at 110 WPM, I'm still behind right now with just over 100 todos pending.

DavidKeffen, Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

It's obvious that they are not listening and are using Twitter as a mouthpiece. They return the follow simply to not seem disinterested in their adoring fans.

I found that out quickly. In the beginning my numbers were over the 200 mark at one point. I'd reply to people and not get a response back. I felt invisible. So, I just Unfollowed them and removed them from my Followers list. No big deal, nothing personal, just don't have the time to listen to you if you don't have the time for me. That's what friends are for. :)

I can understand this sort of use, and don't have a problem with it personally, but it has little real value for the average social media guru.

Snicker, tell that to all the self-proclaimed social media gurus we have out there. Their ratios are a bit out of whack with reality.

Having said this, a limit to the numbers you can follow seems perfectly reasonable and I don't blame Twitter, though I'm guessing that the worst of the spammers will simply move on to multiple accounts.

I find it reasonable too. And, you can request that limit be raised. If you fit the criteria, I'm sure there would be no major challenges.

I'd go stark mad if I had to keep up with more than 1-2 hundred people to follow.

I went stark mad! Took me a week to get things in order after the madness. Twitter is addictive. Why? I don't know yet!

I'm a bit tired of the spammers, but frankly for the majority of us, the worst we get is a list of emails... after all we don't need to follow them.

Ever since I went into Protected mode, I've not had to deal with any of the spam issues. Get lots of quality request to follow now also. I think if you are going to use Twitter "seriously", you create a closed network of friends who all share the same interests. You'll all be protected and it will be just like your in a perpetual IM session. You'll be assimilated via Twitter. It's happening at this very moment. Someone save me... :)

@DavidKeffen, can you believe we have more than 140 characters? What a concept!

DavidKeffen




msg:3728262
 6:27 pm on Aug 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

@pageoneresults 139 still for girls.

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