I wish that someone could explain to me the point in seemingly random people following me on Twitter. You might think that it’s just run of the mill spammers, but generally they’ll come from an marketing background, and just want to follow me for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand analysing public feeds for opinions and trends; it makes an awful lot of sense to tap into this resource, but considering that these feeds are already public, it seems that following these accounts to try and check their updates is an exercise in futility: If anything, it simply leads to me blocking these people so that they can no longer see my updates. It seems that usually these phantom followers are simply reading for new followers for popular Twitterers, such as Robert Scoble, Wil Wheaton, Stephen Fry, or Tony Hawk, which seems like a rather intrusive method of obtaining data from people who have decided not to appear on the public feed.
Speaking of this option; there is an option to ‘Protect my updates’ in the Twitter settings, taking you out on the public feed, and requiring you to authenticate anyone who attempts ot follow you, but apparently enabling this breaks some web applications, such as the official Twitter application on Facebook, which I rely on to keep my status updates synchronised. Now, I don’t mind appearing on the public feed, hell, I don’t even mind these marketing folk looking at my Twitter entries to analyse trends and such, but I’d still like to be able to require authorisation in order to keep my followers list limited to those who I think belong there. Essentially, for my own needs, I really think that Twitter should have made these options separate, and I’m hoping that the continuing development of OAuth will lead to me no longer having to rely on keeping my feed public any more, although the introduction of multi-blogging web services such as Ping.fm look promising.
But this doesn’t address the intrusive manner that markters are using to try and get data from users who have protected their updates: Personally, I don’t think that I’d like to deal with the first dozen follower authorisation requests that pop up in the first two hours after following a popular celebrity Twitter user, or the ones that will continue to appear once other marketing types cotton onto the ability to use Twitter for trend analysis, and I’d be interested to know what Twitter, and their users, would consider to be a solution to this, aside from perhaps limiting the number of Followers users can add in a day, or reporting users that randomly add people, then ban and delete repeat offenders.
If you have a suggestion, go ahead, post it in the comments!