Signal to Noise: Spammers and Social Media

According to Twitter Audit, 95% of my Twitter account’s followers are actual people. This makes sense since I had my account set to “Protected” until about five months ago, and I only used my Twitter account to keep in touch with family and friends. The problem comes from the other 5% of my followers who were identified as “fake accounts,” which Twitter Audit defines by an account’s lack of Tweets, gap in time between Tweets, and the ratio of followers to friends. These fake accounts generally don’t present much harm, since they don’t post often and aren’t followed by actual accounts. Since they don’t post, their impact on the signal to noise ratio on Twitter shouldn’t be significant.

On the other hand, spam accounts have been a persistent problem in any number of social networks. As this Mashable article pointed out, spam accounts have now appeared on Vine. Whereas spam accounts on Twitter, for example, are easily blocked and reported or simply muted, we should now consider how Vine will protect its network from spammers, which detract from user experience.

Questions for the class:
1. Should users build the expectation that they will need to handle spammers on their own when think about their social media experiences, or should platform holders be more aggressive in regulating spam accounts?

2. From the spammers’ perspective, what is the end goal of spamming? Is it to collect users’ information that they can then package and sell them?


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