Twitter is a fantastic communication tool and it is huge: it recently revealed that users are now sending 200 million Tweets every day. This represents massive growth for the network as Twitter says that users sent two million Tweets a day just two and a half years ago, and one year ago were only at 65 million per day. But as with all successful applications a dark side is never far behind. In Twitter’s case it is the ever increasing spam element. You could even be missing valuable and important Tweets because your feed is getting clogged up with spammy stuff!
According to Twitter’s official guidelines Twitter spam is defined as:
Spam: You may not use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone. What constitutes “spamming” will evolve as we respond to new tricks and tactics by spammers. Read the rest of the definition here.
In March 2010 Twitter published a blog post entitled – State of Twitter Spam, which shows a graph of spam with the caption “Percentage of spammy tweets posted per day is way down.” I would love to see an updated version of that!
Twitter does have a team in place to monitor spam, the Trust & Safety” team of 30 people, and they also look after trademark, malware, malicious apps, and user identity. Spam alone occupies seven people full-time, plus the services of two engineers who write code to catch those misbehaving. To find out more about the Trust Team read Charles Arthur’s post entitled – Spam, spam, spam: Twitter’s arms race.
Twitter sees spam as quite a problem. Twitter helps fight the spam issue within the automatic emails that you are sent when a new user starts “following” you, which contains the following wording: “If you believe NAME is engaging in abusive behaviour on Twitter, you may report NAME for spam.”
You can also report suspected spammers from your Twitter account under profile > followers >pick the account you think is spammy, and select the appropriate option from the drop down.
Some of the more well-know Twitter applications such as Tweet Deck (recently purchased by Twitter) have a built-in spam button, that with one click will delete the spam message from view, block the user and report them to Twitter. You can also report them from your iPhone as demonstrated here.
Below are 13 tools to help you filter your account and help fight twitter spam. I haven’t tried them personally but at this stage just purely wanted to point you in the right direction. If you have any experience with them please share them in the comments.
1. TwitBlock is a free tool that filters junk and is also a bulk blocking tool for Twitter. Sign into your account and it scans your followers for nuisance accounts, and then easily blocks them all in one place. You can also see who you’re already blocking once signed in. Also hat tip for the logo!
2. Tweepi is a Twitter management application with several different price points including a free version. It allows you to clean up your followers, unwanted and inactive users based on their activity and sociability scores.
3. TwerpScan is a Twitter contact management site. View up to 100 at a time. Bulk Follow, unfollow, block or drill down to find out more about contacts right on the spot.
4. Stoptweets scans your account daily to rid it of spam accounts; these are decided by the way you set up Stoptweet searches to filter out the users who you don’t want to follow you.
5. For $10 per feed you can tidy up your Twitter account with Tidytweet with the use of a customised word filter. Tidytweet helps keep your Twitter feed free from inappropriate language, users, and content. Incredibly useful for large companies/brands or conferences.
6. Clean Tweets is a Firefox Addon that cleans up Twitter search from twitter.com, specifically for trending topics. After installation click on the Clean Tweets Logo and un-check the box in the bottom right that says, “Show Clean Tweets in Browser” and Clean Tweets will start running in the background.
7. The Twitter Tag Project collects a database of “Bots” that are running on Twitter. Some are helpful but many are spam bots – there are currently 641 in the database.
8. Tweet grade helps you weed out spam by the grade it gives each account. Get a low grade and they are probably not worth the follow and quite likely to be a spam account.
9. Manage Flitter is a free tool that helps you mange who you follow, who isn’t following you back and the accounts you follow that are inactive. This all can be done in bulk.
10. Twits Sweeper is not a free tool, but is does start at only $1.59 per month.
TwitSweeper is a service which regularly checks your Twitter followers for undesirable, “spammy” users. This can be done fully automatically, or the service can ask you to confirm the removal of the undesirable followers that it finds.
TwitSweeper is preloaded with thousands of phrases most often used by spammers. You can add your own phrases for maximum control. Any phrases that you add only affect your account(s).
11. TWASE is an API anti-spam engine that given a Twitter username can determine whether the thing behind it is a spammer, marketer, bot or just disruptive member of the Twitterverse. Check out the 15 min platform overview.
12. The twitter cleaner is a free tool that uses OAuth to analyses the profiles and tweets of every single person that you follow, looking for certain patterns of behaviour (people not talking, being overly repetitive, common spam tactics, posting the same links repeatedly, etc).
If you know of any other good ways or tools/application to stay ahead of spam/spammers please share them in the comments section below.