How Twitter is Losing the Battle Against Robo-Spam

By Kimberlee Morrison 


There’s a battle brewing on Twitter these days: smaller artists, bands and musicians trying to gain exposure, and Twitter trying to stay one step ahead of the spam machine. Jim Vidmar, a robo-spam middleman and influence peddler is one of the soldiers on the front lines of this fight.

Vidmar’s preferred tactic is to purchase thousands of fake accounts and then shop out his army of digital robots to those looking to boost their Twitter reputation. With millions of these bots, and thousands of these arrangements clogging up social media sites, Twitter has started to take more action.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter recently worked with research teams at UC Berkley and George Mason University to develop a spam filter to immediately block accounts like this. When the filter went live it managed to screen out spam account with a 95 percent success rate. Vidmar said of the day they turned it on “they cleaned house,” adding that he saw the majority of his fake accounts disappear.

Two weeks later as the black market began adapting, Twitter’s success rate dropped to 50 percent. In order to combat the blocks, the spam accounts had to become more sophisticated. Profiles were more complete, avatars are present and the accounts began mimicking real users more closely. Once these accounts are complete, that’s when people like Vidmar step in.

Rapper Tony Benson hired the tireless spam machine and it was so successful, he became a trending topic several times in Philadelphia. With this trending came interest from local newspapers, curious as to what the fuss was all about. So important are breaks like this and so harsh the competition on Twitter, some now consider it essential.

“If you’re not padding your numbers, you’re not doing it right,” rapper Dave Murell told The Wall Street Journal.

Internet spam has been big business for a long time, and if Twitter hopes to beat back rise of robo-spam, it has a lot of work to separating the genuine from the fake. But what does being genuine matter when you can spam your way to the top?

Image credit: Pranksky