Tag Archives: spam

I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that the previously excellent spam filter Akismet for WordPress has become less effective.

I have wondered if the rise of embedded solutions like Facebook comments has caused Akismet to miss out on useful data, but perhaps it’s just the spammers getting cleverer.

Either way – I didn’t want to install Facebook comments on my blog and I didn’t want spam comments either. Even when they do get caught they still use up disk space and emptying thousands of spam comments every month is just irritating.

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TwitBlock is over a year old now. One thing we have tried to avoid is being an authority on what is and isn’t spam. We have deliberately avoided blacklisting accounts. The idea has always been to empower the community to collectively decide what is spam by bringing the most likely junk accounts to the surface. We provide some very simple analysis, and indicate how many other people also think an account is spam.

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Below is a mock-up of how I’d like to see Twitter implement fine-grained application permissions.

To create this badly photoshopped image for my DevNest talk, I took Facebook’s Connect dialogue and spliced it with Twitter’s new design for their Anywhere platform.

Take in its beauty, and then I’ll explain …

Twitter extended OAuth permissions

This image is a mock-up – it is not Twitter, or TweetDeck official. (just covering my back, ok?)

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Another Twitter app launched itself to momentary viral stardom this morning by using a practice that seems to irritate more-or-less everyone. I refer to the mandatory auto-tweet posted from your own account saying something like “I just scored X% using suchandsuch app” – you know the type. This particular app was the sneaky, (or misguided) type that gives no warning, and no way of opting out.

Anyhow, this isn’t the first time I’ve been annoyed by auto-tweeting, I’ve written about it before. It’s happened more times than I care to remember, so I won’t go into the details of today’s particular example, except to say that its author has [sort of]  apologised. It’s already been blogged anyway if you’re curious.

What I will harp on about though, is the fact that this is nothing short of spam – Twitter needs to agree, and needs to make it easier to report badly behaved apps. Continue reading…

– or – “I told you it was in Alpha”

I’ve rolled out an experimental TwitBlock feature designed to reduce “false positives” for legitimate accounts that are being blocked. Whitelist entries are now subtracted from blocks. i.e. accounts marked as “not spam” will have their blocks counteracted on a 1:1 basis. If this feature is abused, it will be removed. It survives on the premise that the spam bots are not capable of whitelisting each other.

Here’s the full story:
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The list of Twitter accounts below all have something in common – They all have an identical profile image, which looks like this:

Shelley Ryan

At the time of writing none of these accounts have been suspended. Whether they are breaking any laws or not I don’t know, but it is clearly a syndicate whichever way you look at it. The profiles all point to a Korean-registered “Cash generator” website, which [I would hazard a guess] is a con.

TwitBlock unearthed this statistic from a list of only 18,000 100,000 blocked accounts provided by under 400 3,000 TwitBlock users . When you consider the size and growth of Twitter, you can well imagine that there are far more than 120 288 profiles in this syndicate. You also have to wonder how much of Twitter’s growth figures can be attributed to this junk.

[ UPDATE:  18 Aug ]
Many of these accounts have been suspended, but TwitBlock is discovering new ones each day – currently 248 accounts known with this image.

[ UPDATE 19 Aug ]
I’ve produced a report of the top 20 most duplicated profile pics identified by TwitBlock

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