Are Spammers Taking Over Twitter?

June 28, 2009
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Until recently, I’ve noticed the occasional incdent where a Twitter “trending topic” was socially engineered by a spammer, usually by an application which auto-tweets on sign-up. But the problem seems to be getting noticeably worse.

Just a few days ago Habitat, a furniture store, used the trending topics as hashtags–including one associated with the disputed Iran election–to pimp their “totally desirable Spring collection”. It made for a great case study in how not to use Twitter.

And today I see that the top two trending topics are What McFLY Song Are and TweetBoard Alpha, both edging out #iranelection. The first spams through a quiz; the second through a request for invitations. It’s enough to make you want to scream, Stop Twitter Spam!

Of course, the solution may be to ignore the trending topics, which we can now see are easily gamed. Even when they’re legitimate, the topics aren’t necessarily all that useful. In the Twitterquake of Michael Jackson’s death, nine of the top ten trending topics related to the Gloved One–one of them even misspelled as Micheal. the tenth related to a hoax that Jeff Goldblum

Until recently, I’ve noticed the occasional incdent where a Twitter “trending topic” was socially engineered by a spammer, usually by an application which auto-tweets on sign-up. But the problem seems to be getting noticeably worse.

Just a few days ago Habitat, a furniture store, used the trending topics as hashtags–including one associated with the disputed Iran election–to pimp their “totally desirable Spring collection”. It made for a great case study in how not to use Twitter.

And today I see that the top two trending topics are What McFLY Song Are and TweetBoard Alpha, both edging out #iranelection. The first spams through a quiz; the second through a request for invitations. It’s enough to make you want to scream, Stop Twitter Spam!

Of course, the solution may be to ignore the trending topics, which we can now see are easily gamed. Even when they’re legitimate, the topics aren’t necessarily all that useful. In the Twitterquake of Michael Jackson’s death, nine of the top ten trending topics related to the Gloved One–one of them even misspelled as Micheal. the tenth related to a hoax that Jeff Goldblum had died.

As I’ve said before, I actually look forward to a spamageddon that forces us to confront the attention scarcity problem head-on. At this rate, perhaps I won’t have to wait much longer.

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