Saturday, March 13, 2010

Twitter and Fake Followers

Over at's Google Buzz list there's a discussion on what the rules for Buzz should be. One of the parts of the discussion is control of spam and this morning it was focusing on the number of followers one person can have. The following is an expansion of my thoughts published in that discussion.

"If people want to follow 2,000 people, let them. Their buzz will be crazy, but that's their choice. " @Maneeza Iqbal

In the twitter world at least, these "Spam followers" really annoy me. You get a mail saying xyz is now following me, check them out and they are "following" some huge number of people and their tweets are both trying to sell something and completely unrelated to my interests. it's pretty clear that people who "follow" 1000+ people aren't following them in any meaningful sense. It's obvious that they are just using bots to auto follow people they have no interest in to receive the "xyz is now following you" alerts delivered to try and con people into following them back or at bare minimum to see their spammy ads.

On the other hand I can't see any merit in limiting the number of followers you have, as Twitter apparently does. If you provide interesting content it's likely that your number of followers will increase over time, and if people choose to share what you say, you'll start acquiring a "public" following from people you know nothing about, in effect a social media version of the organic links that led to the creation of the original Google Pagerank algorithm. I wonder how many people choose to follow Dilbert, xkcd, Bruce Schneier, Matt Cutts etc? I doubt that these people had to use unethical methods to acquire and retain their followers, and I doubt that they have even the vaguest idea who their individual followers are, but as long as they keep providing content that is relevant to their public they will retain their followers.

Surely this is what "Social media" is supposed to be about, individuals deciding who they follow, who's comments they wish to read and even who's re-packaging of available information they wish to receive.

No comments:


[get this widget]