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26 January 2009, 16:42

Twitter's growing pain: spam

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Twitter is having growing pains that include spam posts and spam accounts. One Twitter account was recently suspended after a blog post which included a video by Graham Cluley, a Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos, about a "very suspicious" user by the name of "Sara Cross", aka Sara4877 who Cluley believed to be a spammer.

In the video Cluley shows viewers how to spot a potential Twitter spammer that may be following you. If the user who's following you has a new account, normally indicated by no posts, or at least very few and only seems to follow people with the same word in their name (i.e. the same surname, etc.) then the account is likely to be a spam account.

Cluley's Sophos blog has been updated with the news that the Sara4877 account has now been suspended. The suspended account page links to Twitter's help and support resources about account suspension. The page explains the criteria for Twitter freezing an account, ranging from user name squatting, to spamming.

At least one website has already been created with the aim of stopping the spam on Twitter and it even offers several proposed solutions. Also offered by the site are some anti-spam setting and tools you can use for your own Twitter account. Spam is becoming a problem as Twitter's user base grows, along with it's mainstream popularity. The spam is coming from false user accounts that are adding / following hundreds of people at a time in hopes of being followed automatically in return. The spam messages usually include links to dating sites, sales sites, and even malware software downloads.

This is not the first time that Cluley has blogged about receiving Twitter spam. In a post from the 15th of October, 2008, he describes some messages he received from 'users' that wanted him to check out their pictures, which only lead to a dating website asking him to sign up.

According to Cluley, "Your best advice is to block suspicious followers like this, and if you believe you have encountered a spammer let the Twitter staff know by telling (twittering) @spam."

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