What if the Spammers Are Right About Twitter?

Yesterday a cold chill came over me. For months I’ve been railing against the influx of “snake oil sales associates” on Twitter who have been clogging my Twitter feed with their tweets on easy ways to make money online, autoresponders that tease me with promises of page one rankings at Google, or beautiful avatars who want to share their naked pix with me.

The massive amount of hard-sell tactics, autoresponders and skanky avatars are ruining Twitter; making it more difficult to find real people, have real conversations, and make real connections with friends, followers and contacts.

In fact, Twitter recently has been cracking down on these spammers, as TechCrunch recently reported. (Of course, they reported the same thing last May.)

And here's where the cold chill came over me; because as I thought about it, I got to wondering: what if the spammers are right, and I’m wrong?

What if while I slept, a critical mass of people who don’t get Twitter, who don’t understand that it’s not a place for the hard sell, for tacky come-ons, for one-sided conversations, for auto-followbacks (guilty), all moved in and took over the place? What if the inmates are running the asylum?

What if the guy who warned me about “loosing the chance to skyrock with Twitter” is on the right side of history?

You might think the creators get to decide what the tool should be used for. However, eBay was originally started as a way for collectors to buy and sell Pez dispensers...at least according to the origin myth. YouTube was created because it was difficult to email videos to friends...I'm sure they didn't expect that Ford Models would later set up a popular channel there. Come to think of it, do you think the people behind ARPnet expected that it would launch a flood of e-commerce, social networking and niche porn sites?

No, creators don't get to decide what their products will ultimately be used for. How about early adopters?

The early adopters always think they know how a program/application should be used, but who’s to say they’re right, either? I mean, there are still college kids pining for the days when their parents couldn't friend them on Facebook. The first bulk commercial emailers were tarred-and-feathered by the netizens of the time, but these days we see spam as just an aggravating part of our day.

The bottom line is that a service like Twitter is ultimately the tool of its users. If they want to use a hammer to build a house; so be it. If they want to wield it like Dr. Maxwell Edison, it will be hard to stop them.

If too many spammers infiltrate Twitter the early adopters will move to a newer, spam-free platform. And we'll have about two months before the spammers find us again.

You can find Rich Brooks on Twitter. Just don't try and sell him on ways of getting thousands of new followers while he sleeps.

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3 Comments

  • Erik Orgell

    Uhh, how can new followers clog your Twitter feed unless you automatically follow them back? In which case, turn off your auto-follow and you won't get loaded up with useless sales bots.

    I agree that Twitter is overflowing with people/bots who don't get it and see it as another way to blare their unwanted message to the world but that doesn't mean you (or I) have to pay attention to it.

    The other day Twitter removed something like 55 of my "followers" who were nothing but spam bots which saved me the trouble. I'm all for it.

    And I don't see Twitter going anywhere anytime soon. There are too many of us who find it useful, entertaining and a great way to stay in touch that doesn't require the use of Facebook (which I patently refuse to use).

  • Jane Stone

    Great article, especially since I genuinely do believe Twitter is going to eventually fade away. My bet is that by the end of 2010 Twitter is going to be a distant memory in the online landscape.

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    Jane Stone
    Business Development
    http://www.pointbanner.com