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Twitter spam

I have become quite addicted to Twitter recently dispite the fact that I previously labeled it as not useful. Spam is not a big problem on Twitter as you decide who you want to follow and thus block away the noise from spammers. Also Twitter is doing a good job with shutting down spam accounts, particularly so with the help of users who report to the @spam account. Spam accounts are usually shut down within a few hours after being reported. However there are still spam annoyances on Twitter:

Marketing

There are some excellent examples of uses of Twitter as a marketing channel. @LessAccounting for example replies to everyone who mention terms such as "accounting, QuickBooks, accountant, LessAccounting". It is a great way of reaching out to their target market as well as responding to their customers. Unfortuantely not all companies follow their example. Instead they sign up for a Twitter account, start following a bunch of people regardless of their interest or location and post away with their marketing propaganda. I have been followed by many accounts who clearly are of no interest to me; physical stores in some city over in the US or products that do not fit my profile or what I have twittered about.

Twittering RSS

Many of the marketing accounts is in many cases just set up with a Twitterfeed or similar service to post their rss-feeds to Twitter. I do not want these as my followers as they do not respond to me in any way and also result in a Follow-count which is not "correct". Also I want an option to filter these out from search results as there are many such accounts and they clutter up the search results with the same message (i.e. current news).

Bots

For a few days I kept an active look on the #Gaza search results. It is a great feature and it even has auto-refresh with Ajax as well as a useful conversation view. Wish the main twitter web client did that too. Often the search result would litter up with pro-israel messages like "FАCT: Hamas are teaching children to die for Allah". The great thing with Twitter is that everyone can express their view on all types of issues. But this tweet along with other similar tweets are clearly from bots who keep posting propaganda messages to come up on the search result page. Google has PageRank so we don't need to see sites that are not important, maybe Twitter should introduce something similar if they do not delete these accounts?

Tag use

I disagree with many views held by conservatives but if they say something about #Gaza I still want those tweets to show up on the search page. However many conservatives have joined a website called TCOT (top conservatives on Twitter) to unify their expressions on Twitter. If they want a website to share opinions and meet other conservative twitter users I welcome that. But what I dislike about this is that in practice it is a way of controlling the discussion on Twitter. Firstly when many tag their views on #Gaza or any other issue with #tcot this results in #tcot to be quite a frequently used tag. In fact so frequent that it constantly on the trend search list. This gives the impression that most users on Twitter are conservatives which can for some with other views result in keeping away from Twitter. Another, quite stupid IMHO, thing with #tcot is that many of their users tag all their tweets with #tcot. Even stuff like: "G-nite all. The dishes have formed some mutant fungal monster and are screaming at me now. The beast must wait until morning though. #TCOT".

What can Twitter do

The most important task here is to classify marketing and rss accounts. Twitter should give users an option to block all these accounts so they will not be able to follow me and also option to filter so they do not show up in search results.

Written on 14 January 2009.
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