Easy way for spammers to follow more than 2,000 on Twitter (and get better results)

The 2,000 follower limit, it would seem, was put in place to prevent mass following and spam on Twitter. This was pretty frustrating for me since I fell in to their beyond-the-limit zone (I followed over 6,000 people because I loved the information, but couldn’t add any more).

I’m not complaining too much, as I’m enjoying the more traditional use of my Twitter account for now, but this is a ridiculously short-sighted fix.

I haven’t seen much attention drawn to the following facts (pun wasn’t intended):

  1. People are more likely to recipricate a follow request from someone with a low following/friend count.
  2. There isn’t a legitimate way to prevent someone from having multiple Twitter accounts (accounts are tied to email addresses).
  3. The Twitter API limits are based on account, not where the call is coming from (one server can make many requests on behalf of other accounts).

From the above simple observations, one can see the easy way to follow an unlimited number of people.

  1. Create a large number of accounts.
  2. Follow a smaller number of people with each account (you’ll have better reciprocation).
  3. Follow a lot of people (the API limitations will apply per account, so your follows-per-hour will actually be quite large).

The people running Twitter are great. They’re really trying to do the right thing. So maybe I’m completely wrong when I anticipate the above and say that this looks like a Facebook move. Facebook’s 5,000 friend limit works for Facebook. Facebook’s API is advanced and robust and complicated enough to not get terribly nailed by multi-account mass spam following.

Additionally, the information load on Facebook is different. You get a clear picture of who a person is that is friending you. You’re given enough information to make a decision. On Twitter, this isn’t the case.

So what’s going to happen?

  1. Spammers are already adapting to the limitation, as described above.
  2. Tweeple will stop trusting low follow-count users (do you trust an eBay user without feedback?)
  3. Twitter’s servers will still be inundated and over capacity.

I blame it on Scoble

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