Guest Post: Twitter Spam Block Abuse Prevention

Guest Post by from ChrizDDv3 Conversations
Twitter is a place were free flowing speech is encouraged. There may be no other platform that has a better record in terms of encouraging free speech. Free flowing speech could even be Twitter’s mission statement. So anything that interferes with the free flow of speech is truly a shame.
Some on Twitter have decided that they do not want to hear speech that is counter their own. To prevent those people from using Twitter they have taken the next step and are attempting to actively block users that have political position different from their own.
These abusers are performing coordinating attacks and gang up on a victim’s Twitter account. They work together until the automatic suspend threshold is reached. This will suspend the victims account. I have seen some my Twitter friends suspended. In many cases the accounts appear to be suspended as a result of a concerted effort by a team collaborating to have the account suspended by those who do not agree with a personal position of the victims account.
I understand that Twitter must have some sort of automated mechanism to stop accounts from sending unwanted spam messages. But it seems to me Twitter should add some additional logic to allow the true spammers to be stopped and to prevent the spam block function from being abused by those who only seek to suppress speech because they do not agree.
Twitter should establish methods and processes to identify and stop accounts that are abusing the spam block function. Twitter should create metrics to establish normal spam block usage levels and suspend accounts that abuse the spam block button.
It should be possible catch abusers of the spam block function by keeping a record of those who report Twitter accounts as spammers. The spam block abuser’s account should be suspended after the account has reported more a reasonable number spammers. A reasonable threshold could be established so that abusers of the spam block are stopped. I have reported less than 3 accounts as spammers over the last 3 months. The abuse threshold could be established for daily, weekly, or monthly bases.


I think any of the logic below could be coded into Twitters automated account suspension mechanism to catch those who are abusing the spam block function. The threshold value would have to be adjusted to match the metrics for real Twitter users. But the logic would be the same.

Option 1: Abusers are Suspended

If the average number of spam blocks per day is 0.5 for a normal active account, the threshold to have the abusers account suspended could be set to five. The sixth spam block by the abusers would result in the abusers account being immediately suspended.

Option 2: Only Three per Day

Allow only a reasonable number of spam blocks per day. If the average user spam blocks .5 accounts per day, Twitter could allow 3 spam blocks per day and then the option to spam blocks is disabled for 24 hours.

Option 3: Weighted Value

Assign a weight to the spam reporter’s account. The first spam report by that user would have a full value of 1 and each additional report on a given week is reduced by 0.2 until it reaches zero. So that the second spam report would have a weight of 0.8, the third would be 0.6 until addition reports have no value at all.
I hold Twitter responsible for creating a process that can be abused and used as a tool to suppress speech. I also believe that Twitter can determine which accounts are actively abusing the spam block automated suspend account logic as a weapon against political opponents. I would like to know what Twitter is doing with this information. Does abusing the spam block function have ramifications? I think spam block abusers should have their Twitter accounts suspended.
Chris Denhart

Update: 6/30/2012

I am not trying to say I have “the” solution. My point is that something can be done. If twitter does nothing it is the same as supporting the suppression for free speech. This seems to me to be counter to the open nature of twitter mission. and vision

Follow @ChrizDDv3 on Twitter and view his blog here.

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Twitter Spam Block Abuse Prevention

    1. That would not be a problem then– I have blocked & reported many spammers as well (for a while I had a barrage of ‘buy this’ or ‘did you see this’ in my TL). If an account is truly run by spammers I will block it. What we are talking about here is people who purposely work to suspend people who don’t agree with them politically.

      It has nothing to do with true spam-bots. True spamming should be reported.

      May God bless you,

      – PF


  1. If a bot followed me, I would just “block” and not “spam block”. I would use “spam block” if I received unsolicited messages promoting a product, blog or service.

    I do not think people accounts are suspended just for being “blocked” by too many other accounts. I would have to ask.

    I also understand my examples do not include real numbers. Meaningful norms would have to be established. The figures I tossed out were just example of a method.


    1. My twitter account was suspended last night. The only thing I am guilty of is replying to Libs who post on my twitter. Right now I am appealing the suspension. You lose over a half a day waiting for them to reply and reactivate. The first time I was suspended LOL, I should have known better than to bug a liberal actress. Last night I got suspended right after I blocked a lib so go figure. Help!


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