There are always downsides to success, even when that success is built on a web-based platform like Twitter. The mini-blogging site is growing rapidly, but as it continues to grow, it becomes a more attractive medium for the internet’s greatest nuisance – spam. Twitter has been a huge target of the spam community for a while now, but the company is finally saying no more.
Twitter Strikes Back
Last month, Twitter filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court against numerous companies it claims are responsible for most of the spam on the site. These companies are said to be the sources providing the offenders with the tools they need to carry out their nagging deeds. The spamming tools mentioned in the suit are TweetBuddy, TweetAdder and TweetAttacks. Ironically, these are the same tools some brands are using to drive their Twitter marketing campaigns.
TweetAttacks, for example, is a fully automated tool designed to help brands obtain more followers, faster. It provides a streamlined interface that allows users to perform targeted searches, manage multiple accounts and analyze data. TweetAttacks is a similar tool, offering automatic tweeting, direct messaging and many of the grueling aspects of a Twitter marketing campaign. Though effective, these third-party applications are perfectly suited for spammers looking to take the easy route and flood the network with advertising content.
Twitter is also aiming its spam cleaning initiative at a couple of individuals. James Lucero, the name connected to Justinlover.info, is reportedly being pursued for falsely promising to have teen pop sensation Justin Bieber follow fans on Twitter. The company is going after Garland Harris as well, who has been connected to Troption.com, an online payment system that has built its own small digital economy around the use of credits.
Hit ‘em Where It Hurts
Twitter is hoping that by cutting off the companies behind the bulk of the spam, other would-be spammers will get the message and back off. This may be considered optimistic under ordinary circumstances, but the involvement of the court system obviously makes it an entirely different situation. According to Twitter, it has had to spend more than $700,000 on spam fighting measures. The company blames the defendants for having to take these measures, and is thus seeking monetary damages.
Filing a lawsuit against the parties it deems as the biggest offenders is not the only action Twitter is taking to weed out spam on its platform. The social network is also introducing a plethora of new tools to keep spammers at bay. Shortly before filing the suit, Twitter engineers released new site-wide measures to suspend mention spam. In addition, the company has decided to use t.co, its link shortening service, to analyze tweets and determine if their links are directing users to sites harboring malicious content. And as an added measure, it is asking users to step up to report and block the spammers they encounter on the site.
Apparently Twitter is more serious than ever about eliminating spam and creating a safe environment for its users. Back in January, it acquired Dasient, a Sunnyvale, California-based firm that specializes in protecting websites from malware and other security threats. The company says the acquisition will play a significant role in its plans of a providing a safer, spam-free experience on Twitter.
There are many factors that led to the hard fall of MySpace, but the overabundance of spam-like behavior was undoubtedly one of the biggest factors of all. Instead of sitting back and doing nothing, Twitter is grabbing this bull by the horns and trying to get things under wraps before its reputation takes too big a hit.