Twitter: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Twitter is the current darling of the social networking community. And we’ve all seen the positive things Twitter has to offer when it comes to micro-blogging. It was only a matter of time before the human race found unfortunate ways monetize the world’s newest toy. Here are a few annoyances and exploitations I discovered:

  • Retailers were bound to try to harness the reaching power of Twitter, especially in a economic downturn. Dell became one of the first, writing tweets with the Twitter handle @DellOutlet to offer discounts on refurbished Dell products. If a you click on the link in the message, it takes you to a Dell Outlet page. Tesco, convenience and grocery store chain, is also using Twitter to announce sales and discounts. Retail messages are not always spam, but the advertisements do cloud the whole micro-blogosphere, in my opinion. But, its more of an annoyance than a serious grievance.
  • As Twitter has gained popularity, Twitter Squatting, has emerged as the micro-blogging world’s version of cyber squatting. People are taking up brand names, company names and famous individuals’ names as user names in the hopes of cashing in big one day, like many who bought popular domain names have in the past.
  • Tweettornado, a so-called commercial spamming tool, hit the market, potentially offering all those despised spammers a way to create an unlimited amount of Twitter accounts and add unlimited number of followers. This compounded with the application’s ability to automatically update all of the accounts with an identical message makes it an ideal tool to spam Twitter accounts. ZDNet pointed out that Tweettornado capitalized on a missing security link in Twitter’s user registration process: Twitter doesn’t require users to have a valid email address when registering a new account. Twitter will hopefully find a way to combat this shady business, but until then, beware of spam!

To all you Twitter fans out there, don’t despair. Along with the bad guys, there are many beacons of hope out there who are creating nifty Twitter-related applications.