Feb 19 2009
I’m pretty careful about who follows me in Twitter. I get the email saying who’s following me every time I get a new follower, and without fail I click on the link to see who’s following me. Most of the time I think “Cool, another follower” and move on. If it’s an obvious bot (following 100’s to 1000’s but almost no followers) or if it’s someone who’s a marketing person who has nothing to do with security, I block them. I’ve probably made a couple of mistakes and blocked some very good, legitimate people, but I’d rather lose a few good people than have the bots and spam twits following me.
Today I got something a little different, a twit who’s only purpose is to spam people with links to pr0n videos. Or at least I strongly suspect they were, given the names of the videos; I wasn’t willing to risk the malware infestation I believe were probably behind the links to find out. I immediately blocked that account, but got to thinking about other people who might not be quite as reluctant to follow the links as I am. Which brought up an interesting question: how do you report spam accounts to Twitter?
I went to the main help page and could find information about how to report spam and didn’t see anything. So I did what any good twit will do and sent out a tweet to see if anyone else knew how to report spam. Turns out I’m not the only one who had little or no idea of how to report Twitter spam. So I did the only thing I could think of and sent an email to support let it go at that.
I received back several replies asking me to let people know how to report spam, so I decided to take another look at the support page. Lo and behold, there were instructions on the page right in front of me, I just hadn’t scrolled down the page far enough to find them. Under the heading “Contact Twitter was the following information:
More information about Twitter
*@spam: follow our spam profile and report Twitter spam via direct message
*Status Blog: check Twitter’s current system status.
*Twitter Blog: what’s new with Twitter
*Developer Blog: a technical blog from the Twitter engineering team
*Developer Group: if you’re a developer, join our mailing list
And there you have it. If you receive a follower that is a spam bot, all you have to do is send a direct message to ‘spam’ at twitter. Could they make it any easier? Probably not. Do your part, let the folks at Twitter know when you get a follower who’s a bot. It’s not only good to kick those accounts off and stop the spam, it lowers the chances of seeing a fail whale. And no one likes the fail whale.
Update: Minor problem with the process. To report spam, you have to follow @spam. You’d think the guys at Twitter would make an exception for that account.