In memoriam Twitter

So. Farewell

Social networking

Whatever that’s supposed
to mean in English

Keith’s mum used to
Tweet things.

Like “I had
for breakfast”

And other
of wisdom

EJ Thribb age 17 1/2

(with acknowledgement to Barry Fantoni and Private Eye magazine. I was inspired to write this after reading that ‘Twitter is dead’).

Can Twitter be journalism?

Australian tech journalist Renai LeMay says Twitter is journalism*. He’s right but only up to a point.

LeMay writes;

Journalists are not simply using Twitter to promote their own work and get news tips. This is nowhere near to being the whole truth. In fact, audiences are using Twitter as a powerful tool to engage with journalists directly and force a renewal of journalism and media along lines that audiences have long demanded.

Well some are.

I follow about 25 Australian and New Zealand journalist on Twitter, about the same number of public relations people and a handful of both from elsewhere in the world. As an unscientific rule of thumb, I’d say only 40 percent of journalists are using Twitter in the way LeMay suggests.

About the same number simply use it as a way of promoting their online stories. In other words they aren’t joining the conversation, they are simply using Twitter as a broadcast medium. I suspect, but can not prove, this usually is because of dumb managerial restrictions on their use of the technology. A small percentage dabble in engagement, going on and off line depending on their workload (I’m sometimes personally guilty of switching off Twitter when there’s a looming deadline and a huge number of words to write).

The remainder are still in the dull “morning tweeps” and “I had muesli for breakfast” or the more disturbing narcissistic school of Twittering.

* The original site is now dead

Twitter spam

It was time to act when an email appeared titled “making money w/mlm is now following you on Twitter!”

That’s one follower I certainly won’t follow back. This spammer did little to hide his or her intent, other Twitter spam merchants are more stealthy.

I weed them out this way:

How to spot a dodgy Twitter account

  • Giveaway names
    ‘Making money w/mlm’ is a dead giveaway. Names are slightly more obtuse or lyrical and yes, spammers hide behind real-sounding names
  • Glamorous photographs
    Let’s face it, attractive young blond women who look vaguely like supermodels or Playboy pin-ups are unlikely followers. Of course there are good-looking people among my genuine followers, but spammers use over-glamorous photographs as a lure.
  • Number following
    Nobody, but nobody, has 3000 friends. So people who are following large numbers of Twitter accounts are automatically suspect. The exception to this rule are people in roles such as tech support.
  • Following follower ratio
    Someone who follows many people but only has a few followers in return is automatically suspect. You can find tools to help automate the process of purging these from your follower list.
  • Location
    I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I  don’t know anyone in India or the Philippines. Of course that doesn’t make everyone from those places a spammer.
  • Bio
    If the bio includes a phrase like “Entrepreneurial marketing leader – passionate about brands marketing technology” the person behind it is almost certainly a spammer. Incidentally this bio is a real one from someone who followed me yesterday.
  • Links
    Web links with terms like and so on are dead giveaways.

If a new follower arrives and I can tick the boxes on more than two of these bullet points, I’m going to block them.

Can you think of any warning signs I may have missed?

Update: if you haven’t seen Twitter spam, this explains it: Something’s Going Down @Twitter