It was inevitable: as fast as Twitter became the fastest-growing social media outlet, it also became a primo target for Internet spammers. Most people I know on Twitter who use it regularly have said that they’ve noticed a sharp uptick in the amount, persistence, and outright obnoxious-ness of Twitter-spam in the past couple of months.
It used to be that most Twitter spam was generated by over-eager but (relatively) honest Internet marketers simply trying to build as large a following as possible as fast as they could by following as many people as they could, regardless of any possible real relationship with those people. The next and more annoying wave of such spam came as various robots and apps were developed that auto-followed people based on keywords they had tweeted. The latest wave has two characteristics: the pornographers/prostitutes have found Twitter, and auto-generated Twitter accounts (the ability to create dozens or even hundreds of accounts from which to launch spam attacks).
Twitter spam has reached a volume level where I’ve seen people quitting Twitter because of it. Until now, cleaning spammers out of your follower list was a laborious process, made horrible by the clunkiness of Twitter’s following listings. But no more.
Twitblock (http://www.twitblock.org) to the rescue. TwitBlock uses a combination of several red-flag factors to evaluate any Twitter account for possible spamminess, assigning it a spam score. The higher the score, the more likely the account is a spammer. TwitBlock’s simple interface gives you two key functions:
To use TwitBlock, log in using your Twitter account (TwitBlock uses Twitter’s Oauth authentication, so your login is safe and secure). TwitBlock will scan all your followers and then display them by their spam score, worst offenders at the top.
You can block accounts you believe to be spam right from the TwitBlock listing with one click. TwitBlock wisely advises you to block carefully, and allows you to see the rationale behind their analysis before you decide (just click the score box and the details drop down). You can also one-click report the account to Twitter’s spam service.
A very nice feature of TwitBlock is that user blocks are figured in to the spam score. Thus you’re blocking serves the whole TwitBlock community. To balance this, you can also mark any account as “not spam” (TwitBlock acknowledges that it is possible for an account to have a high spam score but not really be spam. For example, some automated Twitter services have very “bad” follow-follower ratios–because they don’t need to follow back anyone–but provide a useful service.) TwitBlock claims that, so far, this system has not been “gamed,” but promises they will be diligent in watching for that.
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So I give it my username and password? How can I know its safe to do so?
Great question, pduggie!
Twitblock takes advantage of a (relatively) new authorization service offered by Twitter (Facebook and others have offered it for a while). OAuth means you actually log in to Twitter (not the application you want to link to Twitter)and then authorize Twitter to share your data with the application. The application never sees or receives your Twitter log in.
You can view all of the apps you've authorized in your Twitter settings (under the Connections) tab, and de-authorize any of them at any time.
Does that help?
I should clarify that to authorize the app, you first make sure that you are logged in to your Twitter account on the browser through which you are viewing the app. Then, when you click the Log in to scan your account link on TwitBlock, you will actually leave TwitBlock and go to Twitter.com's authorization page. Once you click "Allow" there, you will be sent back to the original app page, but now with a connection made where that app can use your Twitter data. The important thing to remember is that the app and its owners have NO direct access to your account; they never see or receive your login info.