In the last week, we have seen Twitter pulling their guns from their holsters to take a shot at Automated Tweeters and the software companies that help people unnaturally build their following.
There have been many twitter users that have had their accounts banned with this crackdown. With services that can follow and unfollow 30 to 50 users a minute, it’s not surprising it looks a tad unnatural, not even an expert from the original Street Fighter games could follow and unfollow that quick with their trigger finger.
Twitter taking action
Twitter filed a suit a week ago against five of the most aggressive tweet automation programs in an attempt to put a stop to the boring sales and viral spam that users regularly use the software for. The Twitter team is fed up with marketers and webmasters abusing the platform for self-promotion, and the suit appears to mark the beginning of a new era for social media marketing.
Back in 2010 Twitter first claimed to be trying to battle spammers. This included posting harmful links to phishing or malware sites, repeatedly posting duplicate tweets, and aggressively following and un-following accounts to increase follow rates. Twitter now seems to be stepping up this battle against the spammers.
Twitter now boasts more than 140 million users active on the site and greater than 340 million Tweets sent each day, the platform has attracted spammers in their thousands. The social networking hotspot has become a breeding ground for junk Tweets and malware, and blackhat Internet marketing tactics running wild.
You can already use the ‘report spam’ link that is on each Twitter post and block a user in the profile and I highly recommend using this where required. At RAD SEO we have spam messages every week, one of the popular ones direct to inbox these days is ‘look what someone is saying about you’ whatever you do, don’t click the link. Often if you check a spam user’s timeline you can see they have next to no followers and have sent the same message to many others, report and block is often the easiest way to rid yourself of this follower.
Now Twitter is stepping up this spam fight and has filed a lawsuit against a number of companies including the hugely popular TweetAttacks software, TweetBuddy, and a program called “justinlover” which was authored by James Lucero. All three sites are now offline. The other two tweet automation programs named in the suit – TweetAdder and software by Garland Harris of troption.com – will likely suffer the same fate unless they can prove their innocence.
Twitter claims that the software creators violated Twitter’s Terms of Service, plain and simple. The site explicitly prohibits users from engaging in certain practices that fall under the umbrella of “Spam and Abuse.”
According to the court documents, the programs advertised that tweets would be posted via the Web and not the API in order to appear as if they were posted by “real humans.” Although this was a loophole in Twitter’s TOS, the site claims that the practice was nevertheless a violation since the automated scripts accessed the site directly instead of connecting the software via the required API.
Twitter is demanding damages of $700,000 or greater from each of the Tweet automation programs listed in the suit and this will really be putting the wind up some of these business owners. On top of this Twitter wants these companies to be shut down and to stop marketing these programs altogether.
The suit sends a clear message to everyone using Twitter in particular spam users who artificially gain followers for marketing purposes. Not a lot has been said about the users that have used the software but Twitter may still impose further bans or penalties on those that they find to have been using these software programs. So if you have been boosting your followers ‘overnight’ in this way then don’t be surprised to log in and find your account has been suspended. Twitter is watching you!
Keep it white hat online
Just like Google penalising sites for over optimising and bad linking practices, Twitter is also looking for cleaner more natural social marketing amongst its users. This will not be the end of the fight against spam and you can expect the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Google to continue to ramp up their spammer bashing throughout this year so beware and take the white hat approach with your online marketing strategies or face the consequences.