February 28, 2009

SocialToo Launches a War Against Auto-DMs

As Twitter growth has accelerated, so too have some of the annoyances associated with the service - including the creation of spam bots, fake accounts impersonating others, and automated direct messages, many of which essentially include spam links. After initially including the option to send automated direct messages from within his social networking service, Jesse Stay of SocialToo is stopping the practice, immediately, and leading the charge to block automated direct messages (or DMs) from similar products.

As Jesse wrote in a post this morning (Time to Take a Stand - Yes, We’re Ending the DMs), "it seems many people either have not understood the service, or are simply abusing it, as I believe the spammers have started to take over this system."

In a case where a disruptive minority negated any positive benefits from the majority of above-board users, the ensuing complaints about auto-DM spam have escalated in recent weeks. Auto-DMs were behind much of the week's frustrations voiced by Loic LeMeur, which I previously covered here.

As an advisor to SocialToo, I am especially sensitive to the way Jesse's service, and its impact across Twitter and other networks, is perceived. Before he made the decision to stop the practice, we traded many e-mails and had many phone calls about what was the right thing to do, and would he risk losing some of his users by stopping one feature, or gain more because he took the extra step, which we consider to be right.

Every morning, I've opened my e-mail and been hit with a good number of updates from Twitter. Some might be following notifications, but many more are direct message nonsense. While I do get the occasional legitimate direct message, from the team of bloggers here, or from folks like Loic and Om Malik, I'm almost predisposed to delete, thanks to abuse from the surrounding riff-raff. As a SocialToo user, I am hoping this step by Jesse helps to clean up my Twitter and my e-mail, and that other services will follow suit.