How Johng77536 Gamed Twitter

Techcrunch has an interesting post up right now about user Twitter Johng77536. Notice his stats here on the right, see anything strange? For one the account is only a few hours old (or at least just started posting) and he already has over 7000 followers. He is also not following anyone in return. So this is different than your classic Twitter Spam were a user follows thousands in the hopes of a few return followers. So how did he do it? Here are two scenarios to think about.

Just like the Sammy MySpace worm he simply may have some rogue code/script floating around out there. Getting a page to go viral with the Twitter community isn’t the most difficult thing. Perhaps this page has been invoked by all these followers and created the follow in the background, unannounced to the victim.

Scenario number two is more likely. Did you know some Twitter power users (your Jcals, Scobles, Loics etc) are given the option to auto follow anyone who follows them? Test it out, create a new Twitter account and follow Jason and Loic. You’ll notice they instantly return the follow. They may of figured out how to create this behavior for other users as well. All they would need to do is initiate the follow, get the return follow and then unfollow for the final step. They may even be able to trigger this action by bypassing the initial follow all together. In a sense creating followers without a paper trail (email notifications).

What are your thoughts?

Update:
Found a blog dedicated to Twitter Spam out there, check it out.



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  1. Stop Twitter Spam » Are You Following @Johng77536? Says:

    [...] Sean Percival: How John77536 Gamed Twitter This entry was written by admin and posted on July 27, 2008 at 2:26 pm and filed under Journal. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Twitter’s New Business Model? [...]

  2. Andy Says:

    Number 2 is very likely, tho im not certain for what effect. Extreme situations should be flagged by Twitter. i dont think @hillaryclinton followed anyone and look what it did for her.

    Originally Twitter had the option to autofollow. Now, you need to request to have autofollow enabled via the Help page contact form. So Twitter should have a good paper trail on anyone who requests auto follow back capabilities

Published: July 27th, 2008