Twitter obviously has their API open to developers to create third party apps, websites, tools etc. It’s all peachy until some websites choose to exploit that power, especially when Twitter users put trust in the site to not create a mess of their timeline with automated tweets.
Recently I entered my credentials into a site that lists off which tweets made me lose the most followers. The site supposedly measures how many people unfollow you after each tweet (if any). Ironically, the same site that shows if you lost followers, CAUSED me to lose followers by automatically tweeting messages to my timeline every few hours.
Last week I noticed my follower number had dropped by about 30 people. This wasn’t because Twitter deleted some spammer accounts — although it did take a drop a few weeks ago because of that. This time it was in direct relation to a particular site that was using the Twitter API to pimp affiliate products using unsuspecting Twitter users’ accounts.
I couldn’t figure out which site was sending out the messages, but after a few hours I was able to track it down. Unfortunately, they did not provide a way for you to unsubscribe or remove your user name from their site. Therefore, the only way to stop this was to change my password.
After taking a look at a few of the links that were posted unknowingly to my timeline, I discovered they all included the same ClickBank username. I contacted ClickBank to make them aware that one of their users was maliciously using these methods to make sales. They banned the account by the next day.
So, the next time you think about entering your Twitter credentials into one of those sites, just be aware that some developers don’t play by the rules all the time. Also check your public timeline every now and then to make sure messages that you didn’t write aren’t being automatically fed under your name. You’ll save yourself some precious followers in the process.
Follow @chrisjacobson on Twitter.
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