Earlier this month, I covered various ways people are spamming Twitter in my Twitter’s Real Time Spam Problem article. Since then, I’ve been diligently reporting some of the more annoying spam I see. Despite this, none of the reported accounts have been closed. So, it’s time for a public spam report — and some education along the way.
Public spam reports suck because often they just bring traffic to the company or individuals who were spamming in the first place. Nevertheless, I figure it’s worthwhile to do in this case to properly illustrate the problem.
Let’s do the name and shame part first (I won’t link to the accounts, but people can visit them directly):
I’ve spotted all of these people — technically Twitter accounts, it could be one person running them all — tweeting links that don’t match the content of what they’re talking about.
Let’s take AdaCardwell, who recently tweeted this:
Devver Promises To Speed Up App Testing For Ruby Frameworks – http://rubyurl.com/…
Interesting, right? And I especially liked the use of the RubyURL shortener to make it seem even more legit. Well done, sir, well done.
I’ve killed the actual link, so that I’m not giving any direct benefit to some pay-per-tweet program or affiliate along the way. It doesn’t lead to the “real” article or anything that matches the content of the tweet.
Instead, it leads me over to some supposed blog tips site. But then the trip is interrupted with an ad for another site, and you in turn get redirected to it. This other site is pitching a social “blasting” tool that no doubt helps other people do all the misleading crap that Ada is doing.
Where is the “real” article, by the way? Five days ago, TechCrunch IT tweeted the “original” tweet:
techcrunchit: Devver Promises To Speed Up App Testing For Ruby Frameworks http://tcrn.ch/4IL by @leenarao
Part of the bait-and-switch for Twitter spammers is to grab a “real” tweet like this and simply swap the URL with something else. My Twitter’s Real Time Spam Problem article has some further illustrations of this.
Earlier, I’d said I’d reported these accounts. That’s pretty easy to do. You follow @spam on Twitter. You’ll immediately get followed back. Then you can send a direct message with the spam report.
I’ve been doing that for two weeks now. Some of the accounts above, I’ve reported twice or three times. It’s done nothing. They remain active. Close them down, Twitter.
I know, I know. They’ll just come back. Hopefully, as I covered in my earlier article, Twitter will find a more automated way of stemming them. Certainly keeping them out of Twitter Search reduces the impact they have. And if Twitter can’t do it, then check out Clean Tweets, a Firefox add-on that helps (and see our review, Clean Tweets: New Add-On Zaps Twitter Spam).
As for those doing this type of misleading tweeting, you’re almost certainly too young to remember when in 1999, the US Federal Trade Commission took action against a site that was spamming search engines with listings that appeared to be about things like kids games but instead lead to porn. The FTC deemed that misleading advertising and shut them down. You sure you want the FTC potentially coming after you?