How to Detect Spammers on Twitter

ArchiveSocial Media
By Jamie Bates | February 1, 2014 | 4 min read

twitter logoIf you’ve used Twitter for your small business, you’ve probably noticed the pluses of this social media platform. Not only does Twitter provide a way for you to connect with your consumers in real time, it also allows for users to talk openly about your brand and stay updated on industry news. However, despite these and many other positive aspects about Twitter, there is one downside that has become known to Twitter—that is, the overload of fake users. Here are a few ways to detect and avoid these accounts.

Common Characteristics to Look For

When detecting spam on Twitter, there are certain characteristics you can look for to determine whether or not they are legitimate users. Some things that spammers have in common are no profile picture, weird language usage, strange bio or no bio at all, offers that are too good to be true, female avatars with male names, misspelled words and nonsense, inactivity, and skewed follow ratios. Let’s talk about each of these in more detail.

  1. spammer's profileNo profile picture. If you see the “egg icon,” meaning that the user does not have a profile picture, steer clear. The egg suggests that the user is either inexperienced or a spammer. To investigate further, use some of these other clues.
  2. Weird language usage. You’ve probably all seen the profiles that use strange symbols or languages you can’t understand. While Twitter is used throughout different parts of the world, don’t be naïve. Weird language settings usually suggest that the user is trying to spam you. Besides, why follow someone you cannot understand anyway?
  3. Strange bios or no bio at all. Most Twitter bios follow a generic pattern, many of which include punchy statements like “social media enthusiast” or “design guru.” These types of bios, while common, are easy for a spammer to replicate in order to seem genuine. Use caution when following users with these bios, and avoid users whose bios consist of only a shortened URL.
  4. Offers that are too good to be true. Spammers don’t waste their time on normal tweets—they cut straight to the chase. If a user’s tweets are all amazing deals or vague calls to action (“OMG check this out!”), it’s guaranteed to be spam.
  5. Female avatar, male name. This one should be pretty self-explanatory. If you see a picture that doesn’t match the gender of the name, you can be certain it’s a spammer. When creating a fake profile, spammers often use one of several generic photos. If you come across an image of an attractive young woman with the name of John, Kevin, Joe, or any other male name, you would be best to not follow them back.
  6. Misspelled words and nonsense. Another major clue that you’re dealing with a spammer is several misspelled words. It’s normal to see a couple mistakes in select tweets, but multiple mistakes in every tweet from the same user should be a red flag. Also pay attention to tweets that simply do not make sense, have no context, or are constantly reaching out to other users who don’t respond.
  7. Inactivity. Be aware of users who never Tweet. While some people simply use Twitter to follow news sources and celebrities, many of these users are spammers. Besides, users who don’t Tweet are useless to you anyway. Play it safe and avoid these users altogether.
  8. Skewed follow ratios. Lastly, you can detect whether or not a user is fake based on their ratio of ‘following’ to ‘followers’. If you notice a user who follows hundreds of other users but has very few followers themselves, it’s probably a spammer. Verify that these users are real before automatically following them back.

By taking note of these common characteristics, you will be able to avoid being spammed on Twitter.

Manage Flitter

manage flitter logoIf you do happen to accidentally get stuck following spammers, there is a way to scope them out and remove them from your list of following. A tool called Manage Flitter is a site that connects to your Twitter account and detects unusual activity. By logging in to from your Twitter page, you are able to view those you follow who have no profile picture, weird language settings, no Tweets, etc. Start today by cleaning out the spammers in your list of followers, and make sure you’re not falling victim to Twitter’s large collection of fake user accounts.

Leave a comment below to tell us about your experience and whether or not this helps to clean up your small business account on Twitter.

Get a Free 30-minute consultation

Editor’s Picks