January 11, 2009

SocialToo Helps Prevent You From Auto-Following Spammers

DISCLOSURE: I am an advisor to SocialToo. (Background Here)
The debate of whether you should automatically follow Twitter accounts that follow your updates is one that has no single answer. In fact, this weekend saw a pair of posts with opposing views on the matter. The first, from CNET, said auto-following was the way to go. The second, from Techwag, said it was in fact, the wrong idea. One of Dan Morrill's major reasons to "NOT follow everyone", as he put it, was the high amount of Twitter spam on the service, as he encountered examples of people who followed him but had later been suspended.

There's no question that Twitter spammers have caught on to the auto-follow game. When I first signed up for SocialToo and started to get daily e-mails dictating how many new followers I had, and how many followers I had lost in a single day, I noticed names in both lists in just about every single e-mail. On December 23rd, I posted to Twitter: "SocialToo shows that more than 1/2 of my Twitter unfollows each day are from those who followed on the same day, hoping to be auto-followed."

The ensuing discussion, which involved Jesse Stay, the author of SocialToo, led to a new feature he rolled out last night - letting SocialToo users automatically filter who they auto-follow. (See: Fight Twitter Spam With Unfollow Filters) The new wrinkle to the "all in" or "all out" strategy essentially says if a user unfollows you in a set number of days which you specify, you'll unfollow them as well. Does it sound like too much of a niche? Well, it's not. Now, any would-be spammer who follows me and unfollows in the next two days goes away. I'll never see their tweets (assuming I actually used the regular Twitter interface, which I don't), and they won't show up in my "following" list - which is more important.

Speaking of synching up your followers and who you follow, which I did on my Twitter stream last night, SocialToo also quietly added a feature that lets you go back and follow every single person who is following you now, for just five bucks. So if you've somehow ended up with a lot more people following you than you're watching, SocialToo has a quick solution that won't have you going one by one in Twitter and clicking. So, check that out as well, especially if your follower count is up and to the right, like many people of late.

We may not all agree on whether you should be following all who pass through your feed, but I'm sure we all agree we shouldn't be following spammers. SocialToo's approach is a good start, until Twitter can remove all the evil-doers from the database.