Four Ways to Identify Spammers on Twitter

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!


  1. Jody Yarborough says

    I like that you inform people on how to block or report spammers. Question: as someone who is a not-yet-Twitterer, but highly considering it. What can you tell me about how you incorporate Twitter into your daily life/daily routine. With Facebook, I tend to get “sucked” in and it can hamper my productivity. Thanks!

    • Hi Jody, I would use a timer in the beginning because like Facebook, Twitter can also suck you in. If you’re at all social, a few minutes could turn into hours very easily. Have a strategy before you ever open Twitter, decide how much time you can spend (10 minutes? 20 minutes?) and when the timer goes off, get out! Because you can always send one more tweet, read one more article, say hello to just one more person. Not having a strategy will cause you to become insane. Truly.

  2. WORD!

  3. Carol-
    This was a great article addressing the ways to spot spam on Twitter. With so many people joining every day sometimes it is hard to determine what is real and what isn’t! I appreciate you taking the time to research this topic and give us all a little bit of advice on how to avoid Twitter spammers!
    I have tweeted this article out to my followers so that they can see how to avoid spam as well!

    • Hi Debra,
      Thanks so much for commenting on the spam article. Spammers are learning new ways all the time, so we all have to be vigilant in our war against spam. And I also appreciate your tweeting the article to all your followers! Sending you double appreciation and thank yous!

  4. Wolfie Rankin says

    I’m a social media veteran, and certainly know how to identify a real person from a fake.

    Here’s something interesting that you may not know.

    I’m a Furry, and I have never, in four years on Twitter, seen a spammer using a Furry Avatar!

  5. Wow :(

    I feel so bad. I just joined twitter, to promote myself as a recording artist and to share my blog. I just got a job doing web research so since I can work from home and I work online, I ALWAYS get sucked into unplanned time “tweeting”. I didn’t realize until I came across this however, that I’ve been tweeting like spam :(

    It’s funny because a young lady I used to babysit dm’d me and said “Oh My GOD! You tweet like spam.” And then I found your post. Ha. But not really. I just got #realitychecked lol I guess. Thanks for a great post. I think ill change my twitter habits to make I a better experience for other people.

    • Hi Martina,

      Everybody wants instant results and there’s a lot of pressure on recording artists in particular to get tons of followers and traffic through Twitter. Being generous with other people first can go a long way into getting them to help you get traffic, downloads, shares, etc. Best of luck to you in not being spammy!

      Thanks for the blog comment! I appreciate it.



  1. says:

    Four Ways to Identify Spammers on Twitter…

    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….

  2. Follow Friday: 8 Best Practices | Women of Technology says:

    […] People like to have a reason to follow other people. So if you stuff as many of your followers into a tweet as possible, that can be very off putting. And people may decide to unfollow you, if they categorize you as a spammer. […]

  3. Twitter: Best Worst DMs! | Women of Technology says:

    […] put up with them. Some people use DMs to Spam others. If you really want to create some great Spam, you’re not alone. Here are some ideas for […]

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