The Role of Twitter Spammers in Twitter Ecology

At Twitter, the act of spamming is universally panned. The first act of the Twitter Spammer is to “follow” up to 2,000 Twitterers (Twitter apparently sets the limit at 2,000 follows for new accounts). The spammer usually creates multiple Twitter accounts and spends an hour of continuous clicking following 2,000 in a big Twitter database like Robert Scoble. The spam accounts always look the same with no picture and similar name derivations:

The spammer’s objective ostensibly seems to be to get Twitterers to click on their profile link (in the cases above, the link is a completely spammy website.)

Within a few hours, Twitter management suspends the site:

Twitter’s Philosophical Dilemma – Explicit Spamming to Build a Following is a No No but Now it Seems Everybody wants to Build their Following Quickly

#1:Twitter started out, and continues to be viewed as a public IM tool that is shared across walled social networks. At first, philosophically, building a large Twitter network of random followers seemed to run afoul of Twitter’s implicit intention that Twitter conversations should maintain relevancy across a network, or “follower” base.

#2: Twitter users like @JasonCalacanis and others started building massive stranger networks because Twitter’s unilateral “follow” clickthrough was so simple. Twitter changed the chat paradigm from private walled communication to a public broadcasting medium.

#3: Yes, spammers spend a few hours on a keyboard with the express purpose of promoting their site, and it runs counter to the social philosophy of Web 2.0. However, most Twitterers will agree that following 2,000 in one fell swoop is the quickest way to build a follower base, provided you are not suspended.

#4: As more Twitterers understand the power of Twitter as a broadcast medium, the more they start actively building their network / follower base. They look for tricks without spamming to get new followers quickly.

I notice the most efficient way to build a random follower base without spamming is to “Follow the Followers of Spammers”. Since the Followers of Spammers will apparently follow anybody who follows them (including spammers), they will also follow you. It’s a hidden game that many Twitterers quietly play.

Silly conclusion: Twitter spammers are part of Twitter’s ecology and are here to stay.


Interesting update: almost all the followers of @skalua are Twitter spammers. Does this suggest that the Twitter spams are originating from one source? Here is the first page of @skalua’s spamalot followers:

ilovenewyork88 ilovenewyork88

You are now following ilovenewyork88
magneticguru29 magneticguru29

You are now following magneticguru29
5figuresmonthly 5figuresmonthly

You are now following 5figuresmonthly
iretiredat22 iretiredat22

You are now following iretiredat22
onlinesecrets41 onlinesecrets41

You are now following onlinesecrets41
onlineweb20gu onlineweb20gu

You are now following onlineweb20gu
trafficformulaM trafficformulaM

You are now following trafficformulaM
therichjerk222 therichjerk222

You are now following therichjerk222
trafficmentor22 trafficmentor22

You are now following trafficmentor22
ilovesalsa22 ilovesalsa22

You are now following ilovesalsa22
leslieonline22 leslieonline22

You are now following leslieonline22
maniacwicked99 maniacwicked99

You are now following maniacwicked99
kevintheman99 kevintheman99

You are now following kevintheman99
joeythementor22 joeythementor22

You are now following joeythementor22
mlmsecrets09 mlmsecrets09

You are now following mlmsecrets09
dooby04 dooby04

You are now following dooby04
marketingguru88 marketingguru88

You are now following marketingguru88
guruman9289hfdb guruman9289hfdb

You are now following guruman9289hfdb
carolinafootbal carolinafootbal

You are now following carolinafootbal
marketingman298 marketingman298

You are now following marketingman298

About Pat Kitano

Patrick Kitano works with brands in developing hyperlocal engagement solutions and is administrator of the Breaking News Network, a national hyperlocal network devoted to community service. He is the author of The Local Network on Street Fight, and is reachable via Twitter @pkitano and email