Why isn’t there more spam on twitter?

Here’s something that’s been bugging me for a while. Twitter is a very open platform – there are probably hundreds of “entry points” through various APIs and clients. It is also very simple – which is what makes it powerful; basically you put your text into their database, and others view it according to a search they do (either explicitly, or implicitly – by following you or monitoring for @ replies).

So given this wealth of entry points, and simplicity, why aren’t we seeing twitter flooded with spam? I’m not talking about the occasional spammer following you in hopes that you follow them back and get exposed to their spam – I’m talking about a massive spam attack including your twitter name (so it shows when you look for @ replies), including hash tags for all trending topics, and generally – flooding twitter at the rate we are seeing with email messages?

After all, the multitude of entry points makes it more difficult to block it from entering than email, and the simplicity of the protocol makes it difficult to filter or block.

I know the twitter team is putting efforts into blocking and filtering spam, but I find it hard to believe they are successfully blocking virtually all spam attacks. Spammers tend to be sophisticated, and I’m pretty sure they watch Opera, too – they must know what twitter is.

Am I missing something?

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  • http://www.com james

    How much did Twitter payed you for this advertise ?

  • http://hype-free.blogspot.com/ Cd-MaN

    I’m not a Twitter user (I already have my blog if I want to write about something – and I’m not limited by 140 characters there!), but from what I’ve heard, the difference is that on Twitter you choose who you want to communicate with (who you “follow”). This means that a spammer can’t just sent messages “shotgun style” which will arrive to everybody, they have to make you “follow” them.

    An other advantage of Twitter is that they are centralized, so that they can enforce limits like “number of tweets sent per hour by one account” easily, while systems like e-mail are distributed and such limits are harder to enforce globally.

  • http://www.BeyondSecurity.com Aviram

    @james – yes, because twitter is an unknown service that needs giants like me to tell people about them.

    @Cd-MaN – twitter has a ‘follower’ feature, but if you tweet something and add @aviramj to it, I will see it when I check for “replies”. The idea here is that people might want to tell me something even if I am not following them.

    It won’t appear in my immediate twitter feed, but it’s a frequently used feature because you occasionally converse with people you do not follow.

    I don’t know if the enforcement of “number of tweets sent per hour” really holds, especially in an environment where there are hundreds of clients that allow you to register and tweet. But maybe I’m wrong.

  • rouli

    The limit holds. Even though there are many clients, you have to be authenticated in order to send a tweet, and the number of tweets you sent is kept on twitter’s servers.

    Nonetheless, I do find spammers on twitter more annoying than email. I’m not quite popular (only 30 followers), so whenever someone joins the ranks of my followers, I get an email. Unlike spam, which is blocked by gmail’s spam filter, those follow announcements always get through, and so I get a few spam announcements each week directly to my mailbox.
    Moreover, there are some words you can write in your tweets that will make you a more popular target for spammers. Try mentioning London or Paris, for example.

  • timetrap

    The two real reasons why spam isn’t on twitter … yet.

    1. You cannot direct message someone unless they follow you. This cuts way down on account spamming, IMO.

    2. Try sending the same tweet twice. It won’t work. I was creating a twitter bot that would report a online status message. “Open” or “Closed”. Since most of the tweets were “Closed” I would only be able to send one. Then twitter would dump the other message, without sending an error. I finally had to append a time date stamp to the end of each message.

    (BTW 2 does not violate the twitter TOS, I only send tweets twice a day.)

    Also reporting spam is easy in twitter, just Re-Tweet the message that was spam to @spam.

  • Robert McMillan

    I’ve wondered about this too. Given the amount of fake accounts we see, I don’t understand why I’m not flooded with @ spam. It doesn’t seem like it would take much to create a bot that could set up an account and spam slightly different messages to users.

  • http://ikillspammers.blogspot.com/ SpamIsLame

    There actually is quite a bit of spam, in the form of “followers” with only one posting, linking to a porn or webcam site.

    Several individuals have contacted me regarding this issue. The main culprits lately appear to be Adultfriendfinder:

    http://twitter.com/ilonaludi

    And xxxblackbook:

    http://twitter.com/RenateRivas666

    [that one has since been suspended.]

    xxxblackbook’s affiliates have been involved in spamming of all types, from MSN Messenger chat bots to Skype spamming. Twitter is only the latest example. It may not be rampant yet because Twitter’s abuse team is extremely fast at taking action against this activity.

    btw: the average number of accounts that a single xxxblackbook Twitter spammer account “follows” is 430.

    You can allegedly report this abuse to loadedcash.com, but so far that hasn’t had any impact on the volume of Twitter spam (twam?)

    SiL

  • http://www.dirtyoncams.com/ obscene cam girls

    because i hate twieter