Twitter only emailing about some @s to hide spam, annoy me

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.Twitter spam

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

8 thoughts on “Twitter only emailing about some @s to hide spam, annoy me

  1. I want an email EVERY TIME someone mentions me. Otherwise I sometimes forget to check. Okay, the Inbox gets full, but I really do want to acknowledge people quickly – it’s social media, after all.

    • No kidding! It certainly shouldn’t be too much to ask. I wish that Twitter notified me of mentions while I’m using Twitter, too — like some flash message across the top. I shouldn’t have to keep clicking to look at my activity.

  2. To get around this I use IFTTT. You can setup a recipe to send you an email (or better yet an SMS) when somebody @’s you on Twitter.

    Pro link building tip: use ifttt to send you an SMS when a big name in your industry tweets ;)

  3. It’s a sign that Twitter still doesn’t have a handle on its spam problem. To prevent users from being overrun with spammers, it’s cutting off communication and discouraging new interactions.

    Nose–>Face and all that.

    I’m just baffled that Twitter still doesn’t have heuristics that blocks spammers in the act. It takes me all of 5 seconds to identify one… why can’t Twitter figure it out?

    • I totally agree, Aaron! Working for a wiki for the past 5 years, I’m used to spam and dealing with it. Spam bots aren’t that smart, but it can be hard to keep them out without annoying the real people who use your site (for example: captchas).

  4. [...] Twitter only emails you when someone you’re already following mentions you. So if you want to notice @s from new [...]

  5. Kristina,

    Thank you for this. I had the same question. I found this post by a Google search of my own query. The link you provided to the IFTTT blog post no longer seems to work, but I searched for IFTTT, found their site and worked out how to send myself an alert whenever I am mentioned.

    While I am not in any sense a celebrity, there are nearly five times as many people who follow me as to those who I follow directly. Many I follow via lists and the standard Twitter notification does not notify me of @mentions from people I follow via lists but not in the main “follow.”

    In any event, aside from the odd spam tweet, and there are not really that many, I am very pleased this post has enabled me to find a solution to my query: how can I be informed of all @mentions.

    Thank you once again!


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