Yes, Twitter has a spam problem. But you can do something about it.

In Why I Joined, I explained that a main reason was Twitter spam, which is any unsolicited contact whether by direct message, through your tweet stream, or mentions.

Let’s see what you can do today to ward off these unfortunately well-known Twitter annoyances.

How to avoid direct message spam

Only people you follow can send you direct messages, so just don’t follow spammers.

Barring the occasional accidental follow, you probably don’t follow spammers already unless you use Auto-Follow to follow everyone who follows you. And if you’re using Auto-Follow, you could simply turn it off. Case closed, right?

Well, not necessarily. If you had a good reason for using Auto-Follow in the first place, you might not rush to get rid of it.

But like most people, you want to have your cake and eat it too, I hear you.

In that case, to keep using Auto-Follow but cut off most, if not all, direct message spam, opt-out of automated direct messages from Social Oomph, a popular site for using Auto-Follow. You might miss a few good automated direct messages, but the vast majority will be the kind you can live without.

What if you have a friend who changed habits and started spamming you? This makes them a spammer i.e. someone not to follow.

If you think that’s a bit harsh, you can either ask your friend to stop or you can stop following them outright. It all depends on how much you enjoyed their previous tweets, and how much you think their future tweets will continue to bring you joy.

How to avoid tweet stream and @mentions spam

Again- stop following the people who are spamming you.

On the web, your tweet stream appears at when you’re logged in and is filled with tweets from the people you follow.

If there’s any spam in your tweet stream, it’s either because you’re following a spammer or one of your friends has inadvertently retweeted one (in which case, tell your friend asap before other friends get angry with them).

If there are few enough spammers in your tweet stream that you can take care of them manually, then your best move is to report them as spam. This will also block them, which has the following effects according to Twitter:

Blocked users cannot:

  • Add your Twitter account to their lists.
  • Have their @replies or mentions show in your mentions tab (although these Tweets may still appear in search).
  • Follow you.
  • See your profile picture on their profile page or in their timeline.

This will also immediately stop you from following them.

However, if you’re an Auto-Follow user who has accumulated a large incidental following of spammers and consequently, a large mess in your tweet stream, blocking them manually takes too much effort to bother with.

Instead, you need to start using a Twitter VIP List.

In Almost 3000 Words On Everything You Need To Best Use Twitter Lists, I explained that a VIP List is “a kind of mega-list that you should use to follow the people whose tweets you absolutely don’t want to miss. If you follow so many people on Twitter that your main Twitter stream is mostly filled with tweets you don’t care about, use your VIP List as your new default Twitter stream. To get an idea of who should be on your VIP List, see who you’ve mentioned (using the @) or direct-messaged recently.”

Since you control who’s on your VIP List, you control whose tweets show up and whose tweets won’t.

Not only will this eliminate spam for your daily tweet sessions, it will also focus your Twitter networking to the people you care about most.


Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.