Twitter has simply exploded over the last year. As soon as local and national news began incorporating tweets as part of their broadcasts the writing was on the wall. World opinion is being measured in trending topics and retweets. Celebrities are signing up in droves as are tweeple from all walks of life. And with all the good comes the not-so-good. Users who will try to leverage twitter to deliver spam to your tweetbox are growing rapidly. Whether they are robo-tweeters or simply misguided people with their accounts set on auto-overdrive the result is the same: Spam in the twitter system. If you are like us, more and more, you are asking yourself, “How do I Stop Twitter Spam?
From a societal perspective we’d love to examine man’s proclivity for taking a good thing and making it bad - but that really isn’t our purpose here. What we will do is share with you two tools that some inventive tweeple have provided to help us weed out the spammers from your follower list.
In July 09 the creators of True Twit proclaimed
“Stop wasting time with spammers on twitter.
We will validate your followers so you don’t have to.”
The TrueTwit approach to canning twitter spam is aimed squarely at bots – automated twitter accounts that are particularly good at following other tweeple and spewing spammy messages at high rates of speed. However, being a bot these twitter accounts can be foiled rather easily. TrueTwit’s answer is to introduce a validation step into the follow process.
Here’s how it works: You sign up for a free account. If someone attempts to follow you after your account is active TrueTwit steps in and sends the new person a polite validation request via direct message. The message contains a link to a form on the TrueTwit site where the potential new follower is asked to complete a short CAPTCHA form. If successful, you will have a validated, human follower. Now, that doesn’t mean the human follower won’t spam you…it simply means they are human. You can stay up-to-speed with TrueTwit by following @GoTrueTwit
TweetBlocker is a newer entry in the field from the folks at HashRocket who approach the chore of canning twitter spam from a different angle. When you create your free account you give the app access to your twitter followers list. The app surveys your followers and using a algorithm that compares factors like how long they’ve been on twitter, their ratio of followees to followers, and their tweet activity each is assigned a grade A – F. Pretty quickly the app presents your dashboard with your followers arrayed on a tabbed index by the assigned grade. From there you can make decisions to individually unfollow some or mass unfollow everyone in a given grade. You can follow TweetBlockers updates @tweetblockerapp but be careful – we found a spammy looking account at the username tweetblocker.
Our Experience: Being TwitterFools who dislike spam we gave both apps a whirl. During our TrueTwit test we noticed that our follower rate sharply declined during our testing period. TrueTwit provides a dashboard that allowed us to see who had elected to follow us and if a validation message had been sent and who had responded. Unfortunately, the number of real people who decided to take the validation step was rather low. Some did, and we were happy for it – but many did not. Perhaps they perceived the validation dm as spam itself and simply decided not to follow that link. While we like the goals of TrueTwit we turned our account off after only a few days. They have recently made some upgrades that allows users to control the outgoing validation dm and that may help a good bit. So, we’ll keep our eye on it an may become a return users if this method gains more acceptance.
Our experience with TweetBlocker has been better but not without some hiccups. First, there is no validation step which puts the onus on us to make the decision to block a follower – where it should be ultimately. TweetBlocker’s results came in pretty quickly but a close look at some of the assigned grades gave us pause. While we were pleased that we received a high grade [shameless plug - follow @twitfools] we found other admirable tweeple with low grades. So, perhaps the algorithm needs a little tweaking. Because of this blindly unfollowing people with grades D and F was not an option. However, from the dashboard there is a nice rollover feature that allowed us to see recent tweets from each person listed. This helped immensely as we moved through our list and made individual unfollow decisions.
Will these two apps stop twitter spam in it’s tracks? Probably not, but they will certainly help. In the end we applaud both TrueTwit and TweetBlockers efforts. Their tools come at a particular time of need and we are grateful for their offerings. Have you tried one or both? Tell us what you think. Of course, if you have other ways of thwarting twitter spam or would like us to take a look at some other apps we are all ears.