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When Pear Analytics started its short-term study, it assumed that most of the tweets would be either spam or self-promotion. This belief, it said, was driven by the growing number of firms starting to use Twitter as a tool to drum up sales.
Instead, it found that 40.5% could be classified as pointless babble, 37.5% as conversational and 8.7% as having pass-along value. Self promotion and spam stood at 5.85% and 3.75% respectively.
Interesting that the figures for self promotion and particularly spam are so low. Mind you, it was a small sample.
Aggressive promoters are more common, but they get dropped or blocked too.
Twitter is used in vastly different ways by different people. I've found some networks of friends who use it primarily as a sort of group SMS. Others focus on very specific technical or business topics for their posts and follows. It's hard to generalize.
Actually, the spam is user-controlled. You only view posts from those whom you follow. You would block, rather than follow, an obvious spammer.
I've also seen the clever spammers, the ones who tweet frequently around that moments hot topics. They stay unnoticed for a while by using a cloak of respectability; they follow others tweeting on the same hot topics; they build up followers with the same interests - hey, it's flattering to have followers, right? Then they drop spam links in about 1 in 10 tweets.
I keep the spam followers - I like to see what they're doing; how they work. Every few days my small band of followers disappear - undoubtedly detected and disabled (or they're just not very loyal followers ;-)). Two spam followers have been with me for a good few weeks - they've remained undetected...
I was among a bunch of people on another forum who were following a trial that was taking place in California. Two reporters were twittering direct from the courtroom in real time. It allowed all of us to keep up with the trial's progress as it happened. Wow, Twitter was great!
Now the trial's over, it's back to the regularly scheduled pointless babble.
In the US a Judge basically owns the courtroom he presides in and has an almost unlimited reach with regard to saying what goes on in there. If it's a high profile case with extensive press coverage, the press is bound by whatever that particular Judge deems is appropriate. It's his courtroom. He decides. Cross him and you can find your ass in jail just that fast.
Hell, we've got Court TV now, an obscure, yet persistent little cable channel that televises actual trials in progress. OJ's trial was televised. The Anna Nicole thing comes to mind.
And then there's the Judge Judy's et al who clog up daytime televisions airwaves for no other purpose than Hollywood effect. I don't really count them but they're there anyway.
But I agree sonjay.. good use of twitter. I can see some Civil defense applications as well.