Here's a few of the different kinds of spam I've seen on Twitter.
- Generic spambots. They follow everybody in the world until they get shut down. Since my Twitter handle starts with an "A", I'm guessing I show up somewhere relatively near the top of some huge list of Twitter usernames. Their tweets all seem to be things like, "Hello, I am from Russia and I am lonely, will you click on my profile?"
- Targeted spambots. They watch for certain keywords that people tweet, then immediately follow those people. I learned this the hard way when I started talking about "payday loans" (as I'm tracking a number of co-reg email senders), and suddenly I've got a bunch of new followers who all want to help match me with the right instant loan.
- Brainless content republishers. I watch a few different Twitter queries over time, to look for articles to link to, and to help find Twitter users that I might be interested in following. Here is an example of one of those. What they've done here is mis-used a neat tool called TwitterFeed. They're watching a whole bunch of RSS feeds for blogs other than their own and posting the first sentence or two of each blog post and linking to it. Why do this? It looks to me as though the intent is to make them look like an active Twitter user with knowledge to share. Except, they've got nothing; they're just blindly linking to other peoples' posts, via a robot, every time a new post is written. That's far different than manually choosing to re-tweet a link to a blog post you personally find interesting. (In case you're wondering about this person or company's respect for social customs, check out their fabulous Free Blast Offer: Send to 10,000 email messages to any list, even if it's not opt-in. Looks like an email spammer who found a new way to spam.)
- Useless marketers who have no concept of personal space and try to inject themselves into conversations even when they've got nothing to add. Laura Atkins and I have noticed this a few times lately, and I ran into it again tonight. I asked on Twitter if anybody had any recommendations for a good thriller to read on my Kindle. From reading his stream, this guy clearly is watching for terms like "Amazon" and "Kindle" and then replying, with a link to Amazon with his affiliate link embedded. What is this guy actually adding to the conversation? Nothing, that's what.