How to Spot a Twitter Spam/Bot Account

I am no Twitter superstar. As I write this, I have a paltry 180 some-odd followers (pathetic, I know). Despite my anemic following, I still garner the occasional spam account, or someone who is generally up to something fishy.

While it’s easy enough to click the “Report for spam” button, some of these accounts are fiendishly deceptive: especially when they have a populated list of followers.

The following warning signs serve to illuminate some of these devious tricks so that readers might locate—and dispose of—these unsavory characters at will.

No Followers/No Tweets

The first warning sign: If this suspected “person” follows you–with the intent of garnering a follow-back–why has no one else deemed them worthy of following? If they haven’t tweeted anything yet, it’s an even greater indication of a dormant/bogus account. A tweet-less account likely is used to stalk other Twitter accounts for the spammer’s stable of other shady Twitter personae.

No Profile

What was this suspected person’s motive for creating an account? Most people use Twitter for a specific purpose (other than wasting time). As an example, I’ve filled out my profile to show potential followers what types of topics you can expect to read about when following my account.

Vaguely Female-Sounding Name

Why would the majority of spam accounts be associated with a particular gender? I really don’t want to get into sociology or demographics of the way the internet works, but it has been shown that people like to think that they’re dealing with a woman. The most recent account I’ve blocked was called “Fidela Canafax.” How did I know this was a spam account? Keep reading…”

Stock or Pilfered Profile Photo – Again, of a Female

This trick is often found in tandem with the vaguely female-sounding name. When I investigated the profile picture associated with the suspected spam account, I found the following:

Check out the file name for that portrait. “… female_portrait_3_reasonably_small.jpg.” Those fools; they’re barely even trying! If you were posting a picture of yourself, would you really call it something that absurd? I don’t think so. Even worse than this is the default egg image that Twitter automatically assigns you.

Obviously, as with anything you find on the internet, take this advice with a grain of salt. It is quite possible you have some followers that merely have tragically generic or otherwise undeveloped Twitter accounts. Hopefully this article can also serve the dual-purpose of getting those people to provide more information—or else run the risk that they might mistakenly be identified as a spam account themselves.

Gotta stop here. While it’s certainly debatable, studies have also shown that blog-readers don’t really read at all—they’re skimming. If that’s true, you could have likely stopped paying attention a few paragraphs back. Thanks for making it that far, at least!

Eric Erlebacher's Profile Picture

Eric Erlebacher is a Web Designer, SEO and Social Media Consultant, and staunch advocate for how business should work—for client and consumer alike—on the web. Check out Real Slick Designs for similar articles, comments, and indeed, hate-mail.

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So far, the cross-browser testing capabilities of this application surpasses anything I’ve seen to date. That includes Adobe’s fledgling Browser Lab which I have not been using very much due to it’s sluggish pace and buggy nature. Although I must say, it is a joy to use within Dreamweaver, but at the time of this post the cons outweigh the pros.

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