You may be new to Twitter, or you may have been around for awhile. Spammers have been around for awhile, too, and are getting more clever all the time. Here are some ways to identify people who don’t have the best intentions.
The Person Does Not Know You, Yet Acts Like They Do
A potential spammer may call you out by name in a familiar way and ask you to do something, like click on a link, visit a website, or vote for them in a contest. Never click on links if you don’t know where those links go. If you think a message came from someone you know who doesn’t know what they’re doing, or your friend who has been hacked, you could write back “Have we met?” or “Have you been hacked?” Start with a Direct Message, then send a public message after that (many people don’t check their DMs). If you don’t get an answer back, that’s an answer right there!
You Receive Direct Message Phishing Tweets
Phishing tweets are often Direct Messages (DMs) which sound like this: “I can’t believe this is you!” and then a shortened link. Or “What are you doing in this video?” If it sounds like high school “drama” or something your friend (who may have been hacked) would never say, don’t click on it! Tell your friend to change their password—which may or may not stop the unwanted DMs from appearing.
Bad Typos, Incomplete Sentences, Too Many Followers
If someone follows you and their tweets are filled with bad spelling mistakes and incomplete sentences, that can be an indication of a spammer. Or if their tweets are just filled with @this and @that, at the very least that will be annoying after about 2 minutes. And if they only have 3 tweets, but 100,000 followers, that can definitely be an indication that they bought followers.
Porn or “Adult” Material
Just as with a Twitter account with bad spelling mistakes, an account with a naked person or pornographic image as an avatar is likely to be a spammer. My own opinion is just not to follow back. Unless they actively reach out to me, I ignore them. Just like anyone else, if they sell something I’m not interested in, I simply won’t follow them.
Other Annoying Behavior
Someone may not exactly be Spam, but they may be annoying! For example, they may be plagiarizing your tweets or stealing from you in some other way. There are zombies and ghouls around on Twitter, even when it’s not Halloween!
What isn’t Spam?
If someone advertises their services on Twitter and you don’t like those services, that isn’t Spam. Just unfollow that person. There is no need to block or report them as Spam. Sometimes newbies report as Spam people who are not spammers.
Ways to Block Spam
Follow @Spam on Twitter and report Spam to them.
Go to the Spammer’s profile page and report them as Spam. You do not need to follow them to report an account as Spam.
Slam the door on Spam includes ideas on how to report Spam (NY Times blogpost).
Want to know how Twitter is working behind the scenes to fix Spam? Sure you do!
Do you think Spam is getting worse on Twitter? Why or why not? Please comment!