Twitter admits it has a spam problem

Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, has acknowledged in a blog post that the site has a spam problem.

The good news is that the spam problem on Web 2.0 sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is tiny compared to email. But it’s growing. And one of the reasons why it is growing is that spammers are looking for new ways to spread their messages, and get them in front of their potential audience and victims. In a way, you could argue that life is getting harder for the email spammers because the anti-spam companies are stopping most of the spam.

Another interesting aspect to consider when discussing Web 2.0 spam, is that people are used to receiving spam in their email inbox. You almost blank it out as you automatically stretch over to the ‘delete’ button.

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But when you get a spam on a Web 2.0 site, a site which is all about ‘community’ and bringing people together – do you delete it as hastily? Do people – because it’s still relatively novel – give the message a little more credence simply because it arrived via the magic of social networking instead of a spam relay?

My suspicion is that people may be more willing to click on a link in a message sent to their Web 2.0 profile or Twitter page than in their email inbox.

What’s certain is that the spammers are learning new tricks. Web 2.0 websites like Twitter need to learn a few lessons from the established anti-spam community to learn how to effectively block these nuisance messages, or risk having their service swamped in the future.

* Image source: wonderferret’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons 2.0)


Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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