The downside: In a blog post, Twitter’s Biz Stone doesn’t do much more than pass along old news to Twitterers: The service has gotten popular enough to attract spammers, and Twitter is trying to combat them — namely by blocking accounts that “follow” many people but don’t have any followers themselves. Presumably spammers will try to combat this by rigging accounts so that they have lots of artificial followers.
The upside: As spam problems go, Twitter’s is pretty mild. The system’s opt-in design makes it basically impossible to get spam in your feed unless you really want it, and the worst-case scenario is that spammers screw up email alert systems. The service also seems like a relatively difficult one for spammers to exploit: As far as we know, there’s no “auto-follow” feature, which means that spammers have to laboriously sign up for each account they want to pester. Twitter also doesn’t seem to have enough users — something in the million-plus range — to make commercial spam worthwhile, but obviously someone disagrees.
Bonus upside: While we’re delivering not-bad news about the service, we’d just like to point out that the big service outage news of the last few days wasn’t about Twitter. Instead, it was Amazon’s S3 service that failed — yet Twitter, an S3 client, seemed to run without a hiccup. How about that?