Fed up with Twitter spam? It's going to get worse

As every Twitter user knows, the popular micro-blogging site has become a hot spot for spammers

As every Twitter user knows, the popular micro-blogging site has become a hot spot for spammers intent on carpet bombing users with the usual pitches for government grants, debt-reduction services, and penile-enhancement pills.

The situation is pretty bad, particularly for naïve users who automatically follow people who follow them. This activity, which many newcomers undoubtedly do just to be polite, opens the door to an onslaught of sales pitches from sleazy marketers.

Here's the bad news: According to a report by Steven Kotler of Fox News, the situation is bound to get worse. Christopher Peri, CEO of Twitfilter, a Web-based app that helps manage income tweets and Twitter followers, says that spammers are getting more sophisticated, and that what we're seeing now is "Twitter spam 2.0."

What exactly does this next-gen Twitter spam look like? Using computers to find keywords and target specific users, spammers are unloading messages into users' timelines. Even worse, these unwanted posts now account for 10 percent of all tweets, Peri claims.

Twitter officials acknowledge they've got a serious spam problem, and they've taken action to fight the plague--albeit with limited success. For months they've been working to reduce the amount of "follow spam," which the official Twitter blog describes as: "...the act of following mass numbers of people, not because you're actually interested in their tweets, but simply to gain attention, get views of your profile (and possibly clicks on URLs therein), or (ideally) to get followed back. Many people who are seeking to get attention in this way have even created programs to do the following on their behalf, which enable them to follow thousands of people at the blink of any eye."

Is It Spam or Not?

The issue of Twitter spam is tricky, particularly since users sign up to receive tweets from marketers. When retailers like Amazon, Dell, and OfficeDepot blast Twitter feeds touting their latest bargains, is that spam? If you've signed up to receive these tweets, probably not. Then again, excessive marketing pitches get annoying fast, and retailers have to be careful not to overdo it.

If you're having problems managing Twitter spam, check out CIO's three simply rules to banish the junk tweets.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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