There's a mild rush of dopamine when the blue dot pops up below the @connect icon. A feeling of pride and curiosity... and then disappointment upon seeing that the sender is offering you and seven other people a way to "Find out to see who's been stalking your Twitter!" Just click the link!
But Twitter hasn't been sitting idly as these spammers pester their users and, perhaps more importantly, snag free advertising space. so they've target the people behind the software that enables the proliferation of junk messages. Last year, the social media giant sued six people for creating and distributing spamming software, which violates the "spam and abuse" rules in its terms of service. Twitter claimed the alleged culprits cost them $700,000 in anti-spamming expenses.
Last week, a federal judge in San Francisco approved a settlement between Twitter and two of the defendants, James Kester and Troy Fales. The parties had reached the agreement, which is undisclosed, in February.
In its April 2012 complaint, Twitter charged that the defendants offered software that "allows a spammer to create a large number of accounts, making it easier for spammers to shift to new accounts and to use dozens or even hundreds of spam accounts at once."
Those accounts, the suit stated, "trick Twitter users into clicking on links to illegitimate websites, again in violations of Twitter's user agreement."
In addition to Kester and Fales, the defendants include Justin Clark, Jayson Yanuaria, Garland Harris, and James Lucero. Clark settled with Twitter last year.
According to Twitter, Kester's "TweetAdder" software offers "packages of one, five, 10, or an unlimited number of Twitter accounts," "multiple account management," "automated following and un-following of other users," "automated generation of Tweets, re-Tweets, and @replies," and "automated sending of the same Tweet across multiple Twitter accounts."
The website that promotes this program, TweetAdder.com, "is designed to create the impression that the software is created for permissible and appropriate use with Twitter's service," the suit states. But, in fact, Twitter's user agreement, which prohibits spamming, rattles off nine specific criteria that indicate violations, including "Tweeting misleading links," "sending large numbers of duplicate @reply Tweets," "posting the same Tweet across multiple accounts," and "promoting third-party sites that claim to generate more followers for an account," among others.
The other defendants face similar allegations. Twitter calculated that each of them cost the company tens of thousands of dollars to "fight spam on Twitter," a process that included "expanding a specialized team to detect, monitor, fight, and respond to user complaints and inquiries regarding spam." TweetAdder, for instance, cost $75,000 to combat, the complaint alleged. Clark's TweetBuddy cost $300,000.