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Now Available in Real Time: Spam!



Yep, now you can have spam delivered in real time to your search results on Google or Twitter. This is just why we all clapped for joy when Bing and Google hooked up with Twitter for real time results, isn’t it?

Oh, no? Hm. I guess we’re not the only ones. Search Engine Roundtable noted a Webmaster World forum thread complaining about the spam in real time search results. In the SER poll, 78% (as of the time of this screenshot) felt the real time results in Google are either somewhat or very spammy:

However, this may just be their perceptions: it may be less that the results themselves are spam and more than they’re merely unwanted, and therefore we consider them spam (like commercial emails that we really did sign up for but really don’t want to get anymore—except we didn’t get the choice to sign up for this addition to the SERPs).

Twitter, meanwhile, is doing what it can about spam on its site. The “trust and safety” unit at the company now employs 22 people, making it the largest division at the company. But it’s not just the blatant tag spam and mock-celebrity accounts they’re looking at. According to Ad Age:


The dirty secret of Twitter’s war on spam? A significant amount of it emanates from clumsy marketers that just don’t know any better.

So what do they flag as spam? They have automatic filters to catch accounts that follow a large number of Tweeple, unfollow them all, and then add more followers. (Follower spam.) They also have recently set up technology to filter links and check for phishing attempts. The team also handles hacking attacks and copyright/brand claims.

But even legit accounts can devolve into spammy practices, like keyword-based autoreplies. The rule of thumb? “[E]ngage the people you are trying to sell stuff to. If you are creating a dialogue with people and not just touting things because you want to make a buck, you are going to have a network of people that value your input,” says the trust & safety unit director Del Harvey. She says they’re constantly working on algorithmic improvements to catch more spammers and reduce false positives—sound familiar?

What do you think? Is Twitter doing enough to reduce spam—including the spam that filters into Google search results? Do you think Google’s real time results are spammy—or just unwanted?

  • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

    I think Spam is best served in real time because it retains its “natural” flavor and juices. If you allow spam to be indexed (sit around for a while) it becomes less appealing. Wait …….. your talking about Internet spam aren’t you? Sorry. ;-)

    Seriously though, I think there are bigger questions like what the business applications are of real time search moving forward. Other than for breaking news it will need to be determined as to what the value is, spam or no spam.

    Thanks, Jordan!

  • http://drivingonlinesales.com/ Wynne

    Twitter spam drives me crazy. I unfollow as quickly as possible when I see this kind of thing happening. I follow other users to network, build relationships, create backlinks, dispense news, and get the news.

    I certainly don’t want to see promotion after promotion from stupid tweeters who should know better. Hey, I don’t mind the odd offer here and there as long as it is good value, targeted to my needs, and doesn’t happen every day.
    .-= Wynne´s last blog ..The Importance of Building Rapport Before Direct Marketing =-.

  • http://www.awebguy.com Mark Aaron Murnahan

    Google and Bing’s inclusion of real time (kind of slow real time) results is fine by me. It is just an added feature to see what people are saying. Just like anything else, the human filter must work properly to see the greatest value.

    We want information, right? The addition of real-time results in other search engines delivers that as a further effort toward thorough aggregation.

    Make no mistake that Twitter is a search engine, and that Google and Bing are social media sites. Each of them aggregates user-supplied data, makes it searchable, and uses social input to derive results.

    Regarding Twitter spam, I could write a book about it. Oh wait, I already DID write a book about Twitter. It included the good and bad … spam and all. My overall answer to Twitter is that it is as useful and interesting as you make it.

    I follow somewhere in the area of 20,000 people. If you think I read and believe everything they post, you must have bumped your head ever harder than I did when I chose to follow the majority of people who follow me. When considering whether those people who follow me pay attention, I just try to keep engagement and interest high, but I don’t fret over it.

    Twitter is quite useful to people who make an effort to find usefulness. The very same can be said of Google and Bing.
    .-= Mark Aaron Murnahan´s last blog ..Creative Marketing: How Important is Creativity in Marketing? =-.

  • http:/www.crearecommunications.co.uk Luci

    Twitter’s doing better, but it still has a serious spam problem. I hate getting followed by obvious spammers, I block them as quickly as possible!
    Google’s real time results aren’t necessarily spammy, but imo they are unwanted – which is why I think a lot of people consider them as spam. It’d be nice to have an opt out option!

  • http://ideabox.thevaluepagesgroup.com Jason Sanders

    I totally ignore google’s real time results, so no comment there. I think twitter is pretty lax with spam. I always report spammy accounts, but they never shut them down.
    .-= Jason Sanders´s last blog ..The Perfect Twitter App: Tweetie VS. Twitterrific VS. Twittelator =-.