Many twitterers awoke Friday morning to find that they had a significant drop in the number of people following them. On Thursday, twitter admins pushed several changes through the system to help identify and clean out spam accounts as well as clear up some lingering database issues that reported incorrect data for some users. I, myself, saw a drop of more that 60 followers following the recent change. As one might imagine, the sudden and drastic change in follower count alarmed and angered many users. I feel these users don’t really “get” twitter and are fixated on increasing the number of followers they have, but I feel they are really missing out on what twitter can offer to those who engage in the community and provide useful content.
photo credit: playerx
Having been a twitter user since January 2007, I can regale new users of a time when there was free access to the public time-line, and the top users were almost exclusively the nerd famous, with the top user with the most followers switching back and forth between Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose. Those times are now just a distant memory as twitter has become infiltrated by spammers and self branded social media experts. Not long after twitter integrated the trending topics section into the main site design, did those topics become the opponent’s flag in a online capture the flag game where spammers latched on to twitter and spew forth their wares in attempts to gain the recognition of being on the trending topics list. Trending topics is a whole other issue as its usefulness has decreased and doesn’t give any back story as to why something is a trending topic. When you click on a trending topic in hopes to find out why it is a trending topic, you are bombarded with dozens of users tweeting out that same question as well as an alarming amount of users that send out tweets just listing all the trending topics in hopes that someone will click and follow them.
Fighting spam is something that twitter has to be very proactive in if they are not turn into a myspace of friendster. If twitter were a comedy club, spammers would be hecklers shouting out nonsense in attempts to get attention. The spammers feel they have a right to be there, but are ruining the show for everyone else that came to the show. To the people dismayed at their loss of their fake followers, I say get evolved, and engage users; if you provide value to people they will follow you. The true value of twitter is in the conversation.