Well, this is unfortunate but perhaps predictable. Email and blog spammers are apparently bored and looking for more ways to generate worthless computer packet activity– and are now turning to Twitter to create spam accounts. (I know this didn’t just start happening last week, but I’ve really noticed an uptick in these accounts and followers lately.) The screenshot below is representative of at least 10 new Twitter followers to my account which are clearly spammers– context clues include:
- the same suggestive photos are used on multiple accounts
- no URL or short bio is provided, giving (ostensibly) more information about the owner
- the same URLs and comments are posted on different accounts
- the number of “following” users far outstrips followers
- the account was created in the last 24 hours
One takeaway here is to check your Twitter followers regularly and don’t hesitate to BAN followers like this. We hear that we’re often judged by the company we keep– hopefully that won’t immediately extend to Twitter followers which have not been reciprocally followed back. It certainly could, however, so I’d recommend educators (and others) use the BAN feature on Twitter to insure your account is not directly associated with a spammer account. Certainly you’d never want to actually FOLLOW a twitter spammer account.
BTW, please don’t take it personally if you are an educator and I haven’t followed you back yet on Twitter– I’m far behind on that to-do list, and need to spend some moments with Twitter Karma to catch up. I’m also certainly capable of misjudging an account when I look at it quickly… While it can seem obvious that an account creator is a spammer using various context clues, it’s also possible to make a mistake. Hopefully I’m not making many of those on Twitter.
I think another takeaway from this situation is that it’s never advisable to automatically follow others who follow you on Twitter. There are some services available like this, I think, which will “auto-follow” people who follow you on Twitter and even post a thank you message to your account as an @reply to them. I think this automation of Twitter activity is unfortunate and is something in which I have absolutely no interest in… microblogging should be about personal connections, not mass media marketing or spamming– it’s too bad we’re seeing these groups attempt to co-opt the platform. Let’s hope they don’t succeed.
Doug Johnson killed his Twitter account earlier this month, and I had someone ask me last week about the advisability of “protecting” Twitter updates. At this point I’m not resorting to either of those options, but I’m not sure what other steps I should take to address this “twitter spam follower” problem other than checking my account periodically and banning followers who are clearly NOT on Twitter to have a conversation about learning or educational technology.
What are your thoughts on dealing with Twitter spammers? Apparently over 90% of all emails currently sent are spam. Hopefully Twitter and other microblogging platforms will find ways to avoid the spam fate of email.
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