TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?

TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?

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Note: This was written prior to Twitter’s purge of spam accounts this evening. One can only hope this is a sign that Twitter will be managing this problem more aggressively, possibly eliminating the need for tools such as TrueTwit. Until that happens, though, we continue to look for solutions.

At last, someone has taken the initiative to address the rampant and rapidly-growing problem of spam on Twitter. While many are questioning why Twitter itself hasn’t yet addressed this problem head-on, TrueTwit was developed to manage the nuisance right now.

For those of you not currently using Twitter, some brief context: Twitter is a fabulous platform which allows one to easily connect with other like-minded people and businesses of interest. Many Twitter users, myself included, have successfully built business relationships with people we would never have known had it not been for Twitter. As with all communication channels, whenever there is an opportunity to get a message in front of a large audience, there will always be people showing up to game the system. And, show up they have – in droves. Spammers are using automated systems to continually post “click on this link….” messages promoting various “get rich quick” or “get more followers” schemes. What began as an irritating trend, has now become an overwhelming distraction causing great frustration among Twitter users, even driving some to leave the platform favoring other places to network and share.

Enter TrueTwit, which markets itself as the “Validation Service for Twitter.” TrueTwit seeks to help its users sift through their followers, separating the real humans from the bots (accounts using automated services, often for the purpose of promoting a service or product).

How to Register

To use TrueTwit, it is necessary to register by providing your Twitter username, your email address as well as create a TrueTwit password which will be used to manage your TrueTwit account. It is not necessary to provide your Twitter password as TrueTwit uses OAuth to access your Twitter account. Easy enough; the registration process takes about a minute. Once that is done, you have the option to tell TrueTwit to automatically follow back all of your followers who are validated as “not spammers.”

How it Works

Once your TrueTwit account is set-up, all new followers will be sent the following DM (direct message):

TrueTwit%20DM - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?moz screenshot - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?moz screenshot 1 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?truetwit dm 300x42 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?

The thought is that only humans, as opposed to automated bots, will be able to follow the link and follow the captcha instructions:

truetwit captcha page 300x260 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?

The Upside
  1. I give TrueTwit an A+ for effort and initiative, for taking steps to tackle this enormous problem and put a solution in the hands of Twitter users.
  2. TrueTwit also gets high marks for responding to user feedback on Twitter in a fairly timely manner.

truetwit helpful tweet 300x123 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?

The Middle Ground

TrueTwit is a bit clunky to use at the moment. The user interface is rather stark and does not provide much information about how the process works or what your followers will see if you use the service. They openly acknowledge that this is still a work in progress and kudos to them for being open to feedback as they try to improve.

The Downside
  1. TrueTwit works by sending your new followers a DM. Many Twitter users view this, in and of itself, to be spam. In fact, I felt so strongly about this, I included it at #10 in 11 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Me to Unfollow You on Twitter. Sending a seemingly spammy message to validate whether or not you’re a spammer seems to be a problematic approach from the get-go.truetwit spam tweet 300x97 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?
  2. Just because someone is able to pass the catpcha validation test doesn’t mean that they aren’t a spammer. It indicates that they are a real person, rather than a bot, but they may still be posting “click here” links all day long.
  3. If some of your followers are following large numbers of people, it can be very difficult for them to keep up with all of the DM requests to validate themselves.? Many of the followers I asked TrueTwit to validate did not respond. Failure to respond may mean the account is a bot, the person is too overwhelmed to deal with it or they just didn’t see the message. truetwit too many dms 300x84 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?
  4. The only way for them to avoid continually receiving these DMs from others is to register with TrueTwit themselves. Perhaps an unintended gotcha, but a gotcha nonetheless. Sign-up or have your mailbox clogged up with TrueTwit DMs.truetwit sign up no dms 300x138 - TrueTwit: Managing Spammers on Twitter. Does it Work?
Overall Assessment

I appreciate the intent behind TrueTwit, but am not convinced that managing this through the use of DMs is the way to go as many see these DMs as yet another form of spam. I applaud their innovation in an effort to help us find a way to manage the bad behavior we’d all like Twitter to prevent. I believe they are listening to feedback and tweaking the service, though I have not seen anything that indicates they are looking for a way to manage this without sending the DMs.

If you decide to try TrueTwit, I’d suggest that it only makes sense to put your followers through this hassle if you set TrueTwit to automatically follow back all those who has successfully validated their accounts. Otherwise, you’ve got to ask yourself how much you really care if some spammy accounts are following you and if it is worth irritating your “real” followers to deter the spammers.



  1. Ksenia Coffman September 19, 2009 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Yeah just got my first TrueTwit validation request — what did I do? Unfollowed the person who sent it to me. I find this highly annoying and lazy from the person who’d use something like this. Another gotcha “The only way for them to avoid continually receiving these DMs from others is to register with TrueTwit themselves.” – this means that when you sign up, all of your new followers get the validation message, and no, I would not want to subject my followers to this. #fail

    • Irene Koehler September 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Ksenia. As you might guess from my take on the TrueTwit service, I also find the DMs annoying and a little spammy unto themselves. That said, if I see that the person using the service is relatively new to Twitter, I might be inclined to send them a note letting them know how their use of the service impacts others on the receiving end of the DMs prior to unfollowing. I’ve found that some new to the platform often don’t get the mechanics and etiquette right away. I’ve had a few people apologize profusely and cancel the service.

  2. Ari Herzog September 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Valid points. The service has been around that long? I thought it started in September!

    I signed up about 48 hours ago, saw a number of validated users be approved, but also saw dozens of spammers and sexbots pass through. That along just led me to revoke the service OAuth access.
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..GMail Suffers 2nd Outage in a Month =-.

    • Irene Koehler September 25, 2009 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Ari. If the spammers get through the service, that pretty much defeats the purpose. Once someone has registered for the service, they are automatically approved. There is nothing to prevent spammers from registering and then continuing to spam. One way or another, the problem with spam on Twitter has got to be dealt with.

  3. Jon Bishop October 23, 2009 at 11:24 am - Reply

    I think you did a great job reviewing this service Irene. I am personally not a big fan of the service for the reasons you and Ari mentioned.

    Overall it’s a good idea but in the end defeats the purpose of twitter, IMO. Having a Twitter account is like creating a door for the world to enter into your life. Using TrueTwit is like putting an annoying lock on that door.
    .-= Jon Bishop?s last blog ..WordPress As a CMS =-.

    • Irene Koehler October 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Jon. If only worrying about keeping the spammers out wasn’t such a huge problem! I’m hoping that Twitter will develop a more aggressive strategy soon to deal with this.

      Hey, your blog looks great, by the way. I’m definitely going to keep an eye on it. I’ve got a lot to learn!

  4. Ann Olson April 2, 2010 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the writeup – I just got a DM about it and thought I was being tricked to click a virus link. And really, stopping spam by spamming DMs to anyone who follows you to validate their account? That’s kinda like stopping violence with violence, right? This really rubs me the wrong way…
    .-= Ann Olson´s last blog ..HTML Basics for SEO Writers: The Heading =-.

    • Irene Koehler April 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      My pleasure. Happy to know this was useful to you. Rubs me the wrong way, also.

  5. Vincent Wright July 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Excellent review, Irene.

    Though I can empathize with those who’re seeking to reduce spam via such a vehicle as TrueTwit, I wish that there was a way for its users to understand just how many good professional connections they may be depriving themselves of by asking their potential followers to go through the awkward TrueTwit loop(s)

    I routinely unfollow each person who uses that service. Not for punishment but, rather, because I know that I won’t be able to engage them in conversation unless I use TrueTwit…and that, I’m not going to do…

    Keep STRONG, Irene!

    • Irene Koehler July 31, 2010 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Well said. Thanks for adding your perspective, Vincent. Not surprisingly, you and I are on the same wave-length.

  6. bzero August 31, 2010 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Yeah, I got a TrueTwit validation request, and immediately thought, “Spam? Virus?” Thanks for the article… I might have thoughtlessly signed up for it just to quit getting DMs, not realize immediately it would have spammed all my friends. Not cool.

  7. AlbaandOmegle August 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    I use it to keep all sorts of nutjobs from profiling me.

  8. John March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I don’t now think that the TrueTwit service is anything other than a form of spam in itself, and it is certainly quite annoying!

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