Twitter bots are annoying spam accounts that target and follow legitimate Twitter accounts. At first glance, a bot account may appear to be an actual user. However, there are ways you can tell a bot from a legitimate account. If you have a significant number of followers, use a third-party “bot finding” service, like Twitter Audit, Social Bakers’ Fake Followers Check and Status People (see Resources). These online services each offer a free version that will list suspected spam accounts following you on Twitter. You can then examine each suspected account to determine the likelihood that the account is a bot, then delete each suspected spam follower.
Identify Bot Accounts
Open one of the fake follower finding tools in a Web browser (see Resources).
Log in to Twitter through the application to authorize the app on your Twitter account, if required. For Status People, click “Connect to Twitter,” then type your Twitter credentials. For Twitter Audit and the Social Bakers’ application, type your Twitter username in the input box on the main page, then click “Check” or “Audit.” Log in to Twitter to authorize the app.
Click the entry for each follower to delete. The entry opens the account’s Twitter profile. Examine the profile for elements that might indicate a fake account.
If the handle (@TwitterUser) and the username (Mr. Twitter User) don't make sense or are not logically related to one another, the user could be a bot. Twitter bots often use automatically generated handles, while their usernames may be a variant spelling of someone’s actual name or may just consist of random characters.
Next, check to see if the number of users the account follows far exceeds the number of followers. Real Twitter users generally don’t follow bots.
Finally, check to see if the account is new. Bot accounts are routinely deleted by Twitter when identified. Therefore, marketers who use bots must continually create new fake accounts. Many of the accounts display the default egg avatar, which is an easy way to identify new accounts.
Block and report each account from its Twitter profile page.
Block and Report Bot Accounts
Open the fake follower or bot account’s Twitter profile page in a browser.
Click the arrow next to the Person icon to display an action menu.
Click the “Report <Twitter Handle> as Spam” option. The account is blocked from following your account and reported to Twitter as spam.
- Twitter bots follow particular users to generate profit in some way. Individuals and companies can purchase “fake followers” with the intent of making an account appear legitimate, even “buzzworthy.” Generally, the purpose of fake accounts and bots is to drive traffic to a website or to promote a particular product or service. This practice is frowned upon by Twitter users and is prohibited by Twitter.
- When fake Twitter accounts and bots are reported to Twitter, the account is usually disabled within a few days.
- Status People allows you to do four free searches. For each search, the Status People app displays both Fake and Inactive percentages, as well as a list of thumbnails and profile links to each fake account.
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