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):
The thought is that only humans, as opposed to automated bots, will be able to follow the link and follow the captcha instructions:
- 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.
- TrueTwit also gets high marks for responding to user feedback on Twitter in a fairly timely manner.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.