Friday, November 11, 2016

Twitter's Double Standard Spam Filter

Did you know that if you post multiple tweets containing similar content (I have found that this is generally 4 or more in a row) that Twitter will begin to filter any new duplicate tweets as spam?

The sad irony is that election season is a great time to test Twitter's spam filter to see who's tweets didn't make the cut.  Once Twitter decides a tweet is spam that tweet is no longer searchable and, according to the results of my most recent CA Legislative Open Records Act request, you can tweet your state representatives telling them how you would like them to vote, but don't count on your representative being notified that you were trying to tweet them.

My previous blog post showed how the California Nurse-Midwives Association and a number of their Twitter supporters had their tweets regarding Assembly Bill 1306 censored as spam on Twitter and that the representatives they posted their tweets to did not receive any notification that they were mentioned in the tweets.  This is much like your gmail account failing to deliver email to your public official based on the discretion of Google.

Keep in mind that when you mention someone in a tweet you see a confirmation that "your tweet was sent" or "your tweet was posted."  This is nothing short of fraud for Twitter to tell you one thing and then not follow through with it.

So, what makes election season a good time to test Twitter's spam filter is that lots of elected officials have a Twitter account and if you are a group that wants to promote your favored candidate you can easily fall into a spam-trap.  The 140 character limit also helps increase the odds because what happens is that it's easy to copy and paste a repetitive message as opposed to composing a whole new tweet for each individual.

So, let's compare repetitive messages posted by the @CA_Dem and @TxValuesAction accounts.  What I discovered with my sample below is that none of the tweets posted by the @CA_Dem account are censored, but all of tweets posted by the @TxValuesAction account are.  For @TxValuesAction, I did not include the uncensored tweets posted in the series of repetitive tweets.

In another previous blog I discuss how to find a censored account, but in this instance neither account is censored, only selective tweets are.  See the blog if you want to know more about searching for censored Twitter content.

@CA_Dem Tweets:

@TxValuesAction Tweets:

Repetitive tweeting looks like it's okay depending on the account that posts it.  I see no reason why one account would have their tweets filtered as spam, but not the other.  Also, if my previous LORA request is any indication, the @TxValuesAction posted a lot of congratulatory tweets that were never delivered to their intended recipient.