Home New Twitter Anti-Spam Bot Causes Chaos

New Twitter Anti-Spam Bot Causes Chaos

Twitter Anti-Spam Bot Punishes Community Managers and Causes Follower Counts to Drop

Did you notice a big drop in your Twitter follower numbers yesterday? It seems that the Twitter team recently decided to step up their Twitter spammer detection, and, in typical Twitter fashion, their algorithm sent the service haywire, leading to yet another sighting of the Fail Whale while the issue was resolved. Meanwhile, Twitterers everywhere were in an uproarover theirlost follower counts.

Spam Detection Goes Too Far

Earlier this week, ZDNet reported that many Twitter users were no longer able to add followers thanks to the new limits put in place to discourage spamming. Unfortunately, this action caused some major trouble for community managers, like Pandora’s Lucia Willow, for example, who stated her case over on Get Satisfaction. In addition to Pandora, Comcast, Jet Blue, and several others were also affected. In order to add new followers, they had to delete older ones – not a good idea for those that want to stay tuned into their community.

In addition to causing problems for community managers, there were even some cases of follower limits placed on those that had a 1:1 Twitter ratio. And although Twitter has not confirmed the cause of the dropped follower counts, it’s likely that the the new anti-spam bot is to blame.

As we wrote earlier this year, many companies are using Twitter for customer service, meaning that they will be following people at higher rates than regular Twitter users due to the fact that they follow back those that follow them. This is certainly a legitimate way to use the service and one that should not be punished through a blind algorithm that can’t distinguish a community manager from a spammer.

While we appreciate the fact that the Twitter team is fighting the spam problem (an “ongoing battle,” says Biz Stone), you would think that they would have considered this potential ramification to implementing their new pattern-detecting technology. It’s almost as if Twitter themselves do not even know what would constitute someone being a spammer. If that’s the case, they should ask the community for guidance before rolling out a brand new anti-spam bot.

Ironically, in the midst of these issues, a post on the Twitter Blog on Wednesday was about a new Twitter app, TwitterCounter, that lets you track the number of followers you have on Twitter.

All we can say about that is…well…this may have not been the best time to release that news.

Were you affected by the follower limits? Tell us your story in the comments (or just share your thoughts on this issue!)

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