12 Most Obvious Ways to Spot a Twitter Spammer

12 Most Obvious Ways to Spot a Twitter Spammer

Earlier this week, Ted Coine shared 12 reasons why he follows back everyone that follows him on Twitter. Joining #TeamFollowBack isn’t for everyone, however.  Others take a far more discriminating approach when considering who to follow back and when. Mark W. Schaefer, wrote an excellent piece months ago that argued for a much more rigorous approach to managing your twitter following.

Several months back, on my personal blog, I wrote a tongue in cheek piece that listed some ways to identify a twitter spammer. I thought now would be a good time to brush that post off, update it, and offer up some more detail on exactly why these traits make it awfully easy to identify a spam account on Twitter.

1. If you have ZERO tweets

I mean come on. This one’s obvious right?

2. If your avatar is a Twitter egg

You can’t even take the time to swap out the default avatar? Really?

3. If your avatar is clip art

Really? Clip art? Come on! Seriously. Are we in 1995?

4. If your bio name & avatar name are two different names

This is a common one. Although some genuine peeps have begun to follow this protocol if, for example the twitter handle of their name was already taken – that I can understand. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

5. If you have no twitter bio

This is another common problem that usually indicates a spammer. Again, I can understand if the account is new, or if you’re just getting ramped-up and involved in twitter, but that’s not the case with these spammy accounts.

6. If you have only 20 tweets but 2000 followers

This is a classic. One of the things I always look for is some reasonable ratio between the number of tweets and the number of followers. You know how hard it is to gather followers – and it takes a hell of a lot more than 20 tweets to wind up with 2000 or more followers.  Any obvious deviation from normalcy and I start to assume you’re a spammer.

7. If your twitter handle has “in140” anywhere in the name

I’m not sure if this particular brand of spammer is not dead, or if they’re just onto the fact that I’m onto them. Several months ago, I was seeing this regularly! These twitter handles were so, I was starting to wonder whether twitter had changed the official rules and required new accounts to include “in140” somewhere in handle. Obviously, over time it became very easy to identify.

8. If every tweet is selling something – especially the same something

If I have any doubt at all whether an account is a spam account were real person I immediately clicked through to look at their tweet stream. here’s a tip spammers! If every single tweet in your stream is promoting the exact same thing? DUH! You’re a spammer!

9. If your tweets promise 20k followers, but you only have 200 followers

Hey MLM kings! We get it. You’re the greatest thing in the world and you can help us get thousands and thousands and thousands of followers – uh, the only problem is you’ve got a measly 200!  Heh. Spammer!

10. If your tweets consist of nonsensical words strung together

Let’s face it. Being a spammer is hard work. I mean show up, you follow bunch of people, and all of a sudden people are blocking in reporting you as a spammer. Pretty soon, any spammer worth their salt will figure out some better way. These are the guys that crack me up the most. Investigating their tweet stream reveals a nonsensical string of words in every tweet and little or no promotion. I can’t quite figure out what the purpose of these accounts is less their sleeper bots waiting to be awoken by their masters only to spam the living daylights out of half of humanity with offers of free Viagra or something.

11. If your tweets address a “person” without an @

This is another common challenge for spammers were trying to appear human. Either they don’t fully understand how Twitter works or through the training they receive the spammer Academy they are not taught that an @ is required to actually identify a twitter account. In either event, any multiple violation of this clearly indicates either an idiot or a spammer.

12. If your Twitter handle is in this format – “Woman’s name _4_ city name” – a made up example might look like this “Katherine_4_Chicago”

This was one I saw a pretty regularly several months ago. Again, I don’t know why these things kept propping up for this was part of the “how to spam twitter – advanced training” class at spammer Academy.

So there you have it. 12 exceptionally obvious ways to spot a spam account on twitter. These are just my favorite 12. What are some of yours?

Featured image courtesy of oschene licensed via creative commons.

Sean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, a company that provides digital marketing training for business owners, marketers, consultants and agency employees.

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@Exit178 I would consider all 12 a problem. You're harmless. ;-)


@Exit178 Well, I only have three out of twelve of those. I guess I'm only a partial spammer. :)

Donna Brown
Donna Brown

Thanks for the info, I'm glad to see that I'm not inadvertently setting myself up to look like a twitter spammer.


So quick question Sean if I may...a lot of people follow back everyone that follows them to be courteous. I make it a point to look at the things you mention here to see if they are relevant to things I am interested in or share other things I am curious about first, then follow if it makes sense. Would you say that if someone falls into any of these buckets, don't follow them back?


You left out the bit about hooker images as an avatar. Also a no brainer.


I've found that one of the other ways, has to do with the name, as well. Random characters after the name Adrian23ad or Sammi82dfa or somesuch. I get like 5-10 accounts, all having that WITH the SAME posts on all of them. It's like they assume that we're not going to look.

Thank you for this post!


Great post! I'd add that if there is a woman's picture for the avi, she is either a) scantily clad and/or b) surgically enhanced.

Crister DelaCruz
Crister DelaCruz

They have an egg as their avatar; a gazillion for friends than followers; no engagement.