How Twitter Deals With Spamming

twitter bird winkExamples of spamming on Twitter  includes posting harmful links or Web sites, phishing, aggressively following and un-following accounts to attract attention, repeatedly posting duplicate tweets and so on. More recently, there has been an increase in spam attacks on Twitter which could be attributed to the increasing popularity of the site. However, various efforts have been put in place to deal with such attacks and the results so far have been very encouraging as shown in the graph below.

One of the most prominent measure Twitter has gone about dealing with spam attacks is placing the “report for spam” link on the Web site. Users are encouraged to use this button to notify Twitter administrators of any suspicious profile page. When clicked, the alert button informs Twitter of the account and blocks it from either following or replying to you. Alternatively, tweets can also be sent to @spam to notify site administrators of suspicious profiles.

twitter spam graphFurthermore, another major step taking by Twitter that has received wide acknowledgement is the creation of a “trust and safety” unit. This group is made up of 22 people, which coincidentally is the largest of the organisation’s 140 employees, set up to specifically deal with fraud and abuse on Twitter. The third major way Twitter deals with spammers is through the use of advanced security technology that flag  up suspicious accounts by monitoring specific patterns such as “following” thousands of users and quickly “unfollowing” them, and then following more  and so on (in a non-stop “Follow-Unfollow” manner). Spammers who carry out this sort of spamming are known as phantom followers and are shut down almost as soon as they are flagged up by the system.

Talking Point

Twitter has seen spam attacks go down to 1% of its total messages as of February 2010. Do you think the organisation can maintain this record and completely eradicate spamming or limit it to less than 1% of messages in the long term?

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  1. It can definitely reduce the number of spam messages right now. The thing is, spammers will always think of new ways of spamming. In my opinion, the % of spam messages will slowly but eventually crawl up again in the long run.

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