GKN Weekly Update 6/11/13 – Is TrueTwit For Twits?

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8 Responses

  1. The point behind TrueTwit is a somewhat good one — prevent non-human followers from following — but the execution drives me nuts. When I want to follow someone, I simply want to click “Follow” and have it be done. However, it seems like more and more people are using TrueTwit, which means that for almost every other person I follow (and that’s not really an exaggeration), I have to jump through the extra hoop of going to the TrueTwit web site to pass the validation test. The only way to bypass that validation is to — surprise, surprise! — subscribe to TrueTwit. It’s become so annoying that I haven’t been following many new people because I’m sick of validating over and over and over, and I don’t want to become part of the problem for someone else by subscribing to the service.

    Bottom line (for me): While TrueTwit may make life easier for those who use it, it makes life harder for those who want to follow those who use it. I’d rather manually monitor my followers (who can be blocked if I don’t want them to follow me) than insert a step that’s almost guaranteed to annoy them.

  2. Sean Munger says:

    Hello. I am the author of the blog post that you linked in your article here.

    I’m really glad that you’re asking around about TrueTwit. When I originally wrote the article in January I had no idea about the response it would engender. The truth is that the vast majority–and I mean VAST majority–of Twitter users absolutely despise TrueTwit. Something like 95% of Twitter users will not, on principle, ever even click the link to “validate.” A smaller, but still substantial, number of users will unfollow and block the person who sent them the validation request. If you browse TrueTwit’s reviews and rankings on Alexa.com (which perhaps you’ve already done), beyond the first page of copy-pasta reviews–which TrueTwit itself Astroturfs, by the way–you’ll read testimonials from former TrueTwit users who realized how badly it was harming their accounts, and how they were driven crazy by TrueTwit’s continued efforts to place obstacles in the path of their efforts to disengage from the service.

    Unfortunately, TrueTwit’s own users are an unwitting part of their business model, which I (and many others) believe is seriously problematic. The true purpose of TrueTwit is to function as a platform for third-party advertising. If a person who has been sent one of your spam DM’s actually does “click to validate,” they are sent to a page that presents an advertisement–paid for by companies that contract with TrueTwit–and the captcha the user must solve is, in fact, an ad slogan or jingle from that advertisement. TurboTax, for instance, is one of the advertisers that has paid TrueTwit for the “privilege” of being featured on their captcha page. Essentially, TrueTwit is delivering messages to innocent Twitter users who are deceptively lured into clicking on advertisements. This delivery of advertisements–and NOT “protection from spammers”–is the true service that TrueTwit provides.

    TrueTwit does not disclose to its users that the majority of its revenue comes from this ad placement. From my own observation, I believe that most TrueTwit users are genuinely unaware that their Twitter accounts are being used in this manner.

    TrueTwit provides no effective barrier against spam accounts. It will not stop the “so-and-so is saying bad things about you” DMs, which are caused not by spambots, but by trojans that attach themselves unwittingly to the accounts of unsuspecting users. All a spammer need do in order to avoid the “validation” procedure is to sign up with TrueTwit for their “premium” service, because TrueTwit prohibits its own users from spamming each other with validation requests. This too is part of TrueTwit’s business model–offering refuge from its own annoying validation procedure by asking users to sign up for premium accounts themselves, which, by the way, costs $20. This is sort of a “stop me before I kill again” type of extortion.

    If the purpose of social media is to be social, TrueTwit defeats that purpose. If nothing else, as you correctly point out in your post, it engenders a lot of bad feelings and a lot of negative attention. Twitter, in my view, is a place where people enjoy connecting positively, and without being deemed suspicious or untrustworthy without due cause. In any event, spambots cannot compete with real human beings, and most people can tell the difference between a human and a spambot in a matter of seconds. Quite simply there is no need for TrueTwit at all. I think you’ll find that the vast majority of experienced Twitter users feel likewise.

    Thanks very much for linking my article and for framing the debate in positive and substantive terms. This is a conversation that needs to happen. Whatever you decide about TrueTwit, good luck!

  3. Tom Dheere says:

    Good points, Justin. Thanks for your input!

  4. Tom Dheere says:

    Thanks for weighing in, Sean. I just looked at my TrueTwit stats and I discovered hundreds of people who are not following me because of it. With that in mind, I deleted my TrueTwit account. Do you have any recommendations to improve Twitter security?

  5. Sean Munger says:

    Tom, what you observed is not at all uncommon–a lot of people avoid TrueTwit users.

    The best way to avoid spammers on Twitter is to vet the people you follow. If you think about it, the people who follow you really aren’t a problem. If you don’t follow a spambot back, you won’t see the spam in its timeline, and it cannot send you spam DM’s. Thus, the best antidote to spambots is to click the profiles of those users you’re thinking of following–check their bios, their follower/following counts, the date they were last active, and (most importantly) their last two or three tweets. It really doesn’t take much time. You can usually tell within two seconds whether the person is a bot or a real human being. You may also find that the quality of the people you follow (and who follow you back) increases dramatically. You’ll get good followers who enjoy conversing with you, RT your stuff and click your links. It really improves the conversation.

    I follow about 2800 people and I have clicked on every one of their profiles. I use no automated follower/following apps at all, so all decisions to follow are made personally by me. I have had virtually no problems with spammers. There really is no technological shortcut. People like a human touch.

    I’ve enjoyed this conversation, cheers and good luck!

  6. Tom says:

    Dear Sir, Madam,

    I am trying to find out why TrueTwit is helping people to avoid spammers. Just wrote a little PHP script to auto the process of solving the captcha code and confirming I am not a spammer.

    So are you able to explain to me how TrueTwit is helping people to protect against spammers. When I am able to do this, why not someone else ? Why not a bot ? Why not a spammer ?

    Maybe I am overlooking something?

    Thank you!

    Tom

  7. Tom Dheere says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for your comments! I’m no technophile so I can’t give you a proper explanation, but I think Sean’s article and blog comments cover the subject pretty effectively. Here is his article: http://seanmunger.com/2013/01/30/the-tragedy-of-truetwit/. I hope that helps!

  1. June 11, 2013

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