// what do you think?


Why is Twitter Spamming Users with @twittersuggests?

When Twitter first started to take off about 4 years ago or so, the spammers showed up like they do on any network. But most people weren’t concerned. “I only see tweets from people I follow so it doesn’t matter.” But that’s not totally true, you see tweets from people you follow and people who use your name in the tweet. Spammers figured this out really quick.

If you’ve been on Twitter for any length of time you’ve received the random spam comment that looked something like “hey @tacanderson check out this video of our new #iPad #bacon machine with music by Justin #Bieber” or “hey @tacanderson you should follow (insert spammy get rich quick account)” or something like that. And when you look at the account they aren’t following hardly anyone, they have some lame location like ‘everywhere’ or ‘the web’ or ‘on my way to the bank,’ they churn out multiple tweets a minute and are completely automated. Any account that does this for very long gets deleted by Twitter as spam.

Unless of course it’s run by Twitter itself. (There’s nothing we love to complain about more on than double standards.)

Apparently Twitter decided to copy those very same spammer tactics they’ve been trying to stop with the launch of @twittersuggests.

They’ve taken their ‘Who to follow’ suggestions for users and turned it into spam, or a real-time stream depending on your perspective.

@twittersuggests follows exactly one other account, churns out about 20-30 automated tweets per minute and is total spam.

The account they are suggesting accounts to only follows 5 other accounts, hasn’t posted at all and hasn’t even filled out a profile. Twitter is suggesting another account that also hasn’t tweeted and only follows 2 people.

In fact almost every account I saw Twitter making suggestions were following less than 10 people and had rarely, if ever posted, so it’s obvious they are targeting the silent majority of Twitter users. But why? Why spam all your noobs? Don’t you run the risk of annoying your newest users? Possibly, but the risk is probably worth it.

Twitter is a scale-free network. Scale-free networks (like the Internet) are stronger the more hubs they have. The more interconnected you can make the whole network the stronger the network.

And if their experiment works and they are able to activate these new users then it gives Twitter a more valuable user base, more active people to advertise to and more users who are more likely to get their friends involved in Twitter. (And of course if it works it turns into another marketing opportunity for Twitter.)

What do you think? Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Is it spam or a value add?

Thanks to @louisgray for the tip to the new account.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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