Any popular social network (or blog, wiki, etc.) is bound to become an attractive target to spammers. People have come to expect spam in their email inbox, but spam can be surprising on a social site where you feel like you’re only talking to and visible to your friends.
What’s interesting to me is how social networks deal with try to hide spam. In my last post, I talked about how Facebook hides messages from non-friends they think could be spam. This gives Facebook a sense on non-spamminess at the cost of preventing social interactions from people you’re not connected to.
Now I’ve noticed that Twitter is doing something similar. When anyone used to mention @KristinaWeis in a tweet, I got both an email alert and something in my interactions/mentions section on the site. Now I don’t get an email alert when someone I’m not following mentions my handle in a tweet. (There’s only one box in my notification settings – “Email me when I’m sent a reply or @ mentioned ” – and it’s checked.)
Usually the mentions I get are a real person replying to one of my tweets or trying to get my attention, or sometimes it’s a Twitter spammer linking me to a work-from-home scam or site promising a free iPad.
Either way (whether it’s a spammer or not), I would like to know right away when someones @s me in a tweet. And I think Twitter should want to let me know, too. Why?
- When I notice spam on Twitter, I flag it immediately. This helps Twitter look and do their job better, and it should help make Twitter a better place for other tweeple.
- Twitter is much more rewarding and social when conversations are in real time. If you respond to someone’s tweet with a question, or you introduce yourself with an @, and you don’t hear back for hours or days, you probably forgot about it and have lost interest and excitement. An email alert – especially if the recipient has a smart phone – speeds up response time and can keep a Twitter conversation alive.
- Email alerts would bring back inactive people. There are many people that create a Twitter account, don’t do much, and then never come back. I @ some of those people to invite them to come back, but if they weren’t following me they will probably never see it. That’s frustrating for me, and it’s a lost opportunity for Twitter.
I suspect that Twitter stopped sending email alerts for all mentions because they don’t want to remind people that Twitter gets spammed a lot. I get that. But the real result is that Twitter spammers will go on spamming longer before they get flagged and suspended, and interactions between new people will happen less and be less exciting. May I suggest fixing the spam problem without turning down the social dial?
What do you think? Comment below.