Part 5 of a series

Writing a series of posts on Twitter scams has been pretty depressing.

I found there is a thriving subculture of deceivers that is bizarre and disturbing. The scammers exploit the elderly, the vulnerable, the under-educated, and the desperate.  This is typical: A Twitter page of a friendly looking man who is a “Husband, Dad, Blogger and Entrepreneur” peddling this product: From Food Stamps To 7 Figures Online Free Video.

The scam sub-culture blogs about dodging regulations and adjusting tactics to capitalize on loopholes.  “Best practices” spread at the speed of light and the pyramid schemes can vanish behind the social web’s cloak of anonymity, free access and fake accounts. The scum has become more powerful through the recession, persistent unemployment and evolving technology that feeds their need to deceive.

The mere fact that I wrote articles containing the words “MLM” attracted automated spammers that nearly snowed me under with deceitful tweets.   I am sickened by the vast resources devoted to tricking us into clicking.

What can be done about it?

On a macro-level, very little.   Most regulations or policies could also hurt legitimate enterprises.  We have to take the fight to the streets.

Here are some ideas to help you fight back and at least take control in your part of the blogosphere.

Use Twitter “report for spam” option.  Any time I am spammed by porn-peddling, teeth-whitening, Trump Network sludge, I hit the report for spam button. Twitter seems to be processing at least some of these requests manually to avoid mob-rule against legitimate but unpopular tweeters, so I don’t really know what it takes to get people kicked out.  Just do your part. If enough people take the time to do it, it is in Twitter’s best interest to figure out a way to handle it.

There’s an app for that? — There is a new app called Stop Tweet that may provide hope to the idea of automatically blocking some spammers.  This utility allows you to tweak your personal settings to block and report people based on two tell-tale characteristics — no or low number of tweets and a high following-to-follower ratio.  It can also show you who among your followers who is a known spammer.  I tried this app out and unfortunately it did block several legitimate small businesses just starting Twitter accounts.  Play around with the settings and let me know what you think.

Separate email addresses — I have one email address I try to keep “pure” for correspondence with real people and another one I use for ANY app, service, or website. I even use my “spam” address when posting comments. Face it, it is only a matter of time before a database is hacked and all your identification and passwords violated. Minimize this inevitable risk by containing it to one account.

Mind the basics — You know the routine. Use strong passwords that are long, a mixture of letters and numbers, and nonsense words unrelated to any personal information. I just did research for a client project that showed the number one password for elderly people is “password.”  Help educate your loved ones, too.

Ignore them — Don’t be tempted to do what I did and explore the spam underworld. Don’t visit their sites or ask for more information, even in fun. If you respond to their spam, you’re encouraging them to continue, and they only need a tiny response to be profitable. Take my advice based on experience — ignore them completely!

What are YOUR strategies for dealing with the spam tsunamai?  What could Twitter do to step-up to the problem?

Part 1 in the series on Twitter’s Biggest Scams: Multi-level marketing

Part 2:  The teeth whiteners

Part 3: The Twitter follower scam

Part 4: The Trump Network

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