Dr.Twuth–Now I Need a Service for Validation? Beating the Bots

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dr. Twuth, here to anwer all your questions, problems and concerns about social media. Since social media (done properly) involves interacting with other humans, it is just a good plan to have an advice column handy to help navigate the emotional waters of keeping thousands of friends happy and speaking to us.

My alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I found a Direct Message from “MomCat_Reviews” and the message says she “Uses TrueTwit validation service. To validate, click here,” and then there’s a link to click on. Well, I already know those kinds of links are usually from a hacker and have a virus. So I tried to send MomCat_Reviews a DM asking if she sent that Tweet and telling her I think her account might have been hacked. When I tried to send the tweet, I got a message saying, “Recipient Not Following You.” I thought someone had to be a follower to send a DM. Is that correct? And since the tweet won’t go through, I suspect a hacker sent this, and I wonder how they were able to send a DM. Do you have any advice for us about Twitter hackers?

Thanks, Dr. Twuth.
Hoping For Better Tweet Days

Dear Hoping,

You are a good tweep looking out for your peep this way. Humans have to stick together to keep the machines in their place. Your letter actually has a number of points that need addressing. First of all, validation services. DON’T USE THEM. For normal people who are only befriending a handful of peeps they know, this might be okay. But, those of us who are on social media to build a large platform need to remove as many barriers as possible to others trying to follow us.

When it comes to Twitter, it takes ONE click to remove and report a bot or offensive person. So this whole need for a validation service is kind of lazy. It isn’t like we have to get an order from a judge to remove someone. Just CLICK. We can all do this.

Validation services make people who are trying to follow us click on a link and go through steps just to follow our tweets. I can’t speak for everyone, but as for myself? I ignore anyone who makes me jump through hoops. I have real family to make me jump through hoops for approval. I figure I have enough high-maintenance relationships in life without volunteering for more.

Validation services not only make others trudge through cumbersome extra steps, but they also make them leave Twitter. This can open our followers up to hackers and phishers. Giving our Twitter followers a digital social disease is not exactly a way to make long-lasting friendships, if ya dig.

If any of you get weird tweets or DMs (direct messages) with a link to click, this is often the work of a hacker. DO NOT CLICK FISHY (PHISHY) LINKS…PERIOD. If someone sends you a tweet or DM that they saw a picture of you or a video, THIS IS A HACKER. Even if someone sends you a link via DM that looks legit, I recommend you do a little confirmation before clicking. Send this person a DM or even a tweet confirming the person actually sent you a link. It takes a half a minute and saves a lot of heartache.

And, yes, the person must be following you in order for you to send them a DM.

If you cannot DM the person and warn them they might have been phished, just send a polite tweet. Hey, I am getting odd DMs from you. You might need to change your password. If this person gets irritated or defensive, then the worst thing they can do is unfollow you. Not that this is a bad thing. High-maintenance people are almost as annoying on-line as in person, so just unfollow and move on. Avoiding toxic peeps will keep your hair from falling out in clumps. Prevention is key.

As far as what we can do to avoid bots…

Be careful what you tweet about. If you talk about s_ex AT ALL, the bots will pick up certain key words and light on you like fruit flies on an overripe banana. Same when we talk about any kind of medicines or high-tech gadgetry. If anything you mention is something spammers love to fill your e-mail with– offers for se-x, p0rn, hydroc0d0ne, peeeeenis enlarge-ment–first of all, there are better things to talk about on-line.

But, say you just came home from the hospital and want to tell your tweeps you are alive from being hit by an ice cream truck. If you tweet, Hey, I am fine. All I need is rest and oxycodone…the bots will get you.

So, we have to either not talk about these things on social media (Twitter especially) OR we can camouflage our key words. Earlier in the year when I bought a Ma_c com-puter, I always used spaces and hyphens to fool the word search technology that spammers loooove. Humans will understand what a M-ac co-mputer, an Ip0d and an XB-0x are…bots will not. This is the defense.

Ah, but the best defense is a good offense. When anyone tweets you just a link, click on their profile. If this looks like a spammer, block and report on the spot. Better yet, block and report then retweet and add @Katy456789 is a nasty spam bot. Everyone please block and report her. If Twitter gets 20 people blocking and reporting a profile, they will terminate @Katy456789 with extreme prejudice. No muss, no fuss.

You guys know I am all about teamwork. If we all go on the offensive with a Zero Tolerance Spam Policy, these bottom feeders will scurry off elsewhere. With enough collective vigilance, we could drive the spam bots to the brink of extinction, and wouldn’t that be lovely?

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

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  1. #1 by shelley Koon on September 20, 2011 - 8:37 am

    Thank you for the “you don’t need validation” validation! A sure fire way to get me to not follow someone is for them to have a validation service – such a hug PITA. I’ve been getting a large number of odd DMs from people I talk to on Twitter “I love this pic of you” followed by an url (that I never click on). Has anyone else noticed a recent influx of hacking on Twitter lately or do I just have an unusual number of unlucky Tweeps? Any ideas on preemptive actions to keep ones account from getting hacked?

    • #2 by Jennette Marie Powell on September 20, 2011 - 8:54 am

      I’ve been getting lot of these, only they’ re mentions instead of DMs. Most are “people” who don’t even follow me. I report as spam immediately. Thanks for the PSA, Kristen! And yeah, I totally wouldn’t bother with someone who has to validate me first!

    • #3 by Amy Kennedy on September 20, 2011 - 1:09 pm

      Yes! Just in the last few days — I did not click the link. Why would a person I only know on twitter see a picture of me? Dr. Twuth, your timing is perfect.

    • #4 by CC MacKenzie on September 20, 2011 - 4:03 pm

      Yes, tons of them and I block ’em, each and every one.

    • #5 by Sue on September 22, 2011 - 8:20 pm

      Yes! and I unfollowed them. I don’t want to be directed to a spam site.

  2. #6 by Kim Kathleen Terry on September 20, 2011 - 8:41 am

    Wow! I ran into one such “critter” when I tried to reply to Tweeter’s DM. I wondered why I wasn’t successful. Thanks for the info, Dr. Twuth!

  3. #7 by Tamara LeBlanc on September 20, 2011 - 8:43 am

    Learning the ins and outs of Twitter, and other social media is one of the main reasons I visit your site (though with 2 vacations, homecoming week, My son’s Mr. Brookwood involvment and two consecutive teen b-days over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been terribly neglectful) I’m so glad to be back!!
    After going through the 563 emails I missed on my hiatus, I found one from Twitter saying that a particular person couldn’t follow me because they knew my email address. Didn’t even know that was an issue.
    So I went on Twitter and changed my settings to allow (this person I happen to know) access…all though now I wonder if I should have changed the settings. Is it safer to let Twitter give me a heads up about people with my email address wanting to follow me, or is it okay to just let everyone with my email address follow willy nilly?
    Thank you for your wisdom!!
    Have a fantastic Tuesday,

  4. #8 by Graeme Smith on September 20, 2011 - 9:23 am

    Lady Kristen

    It’s the same argument as the one against:

    1: Not allowing Anonymous comments
    2: Enforced User Account logins before posting
    3: Captchas

    Can such methods decrease the amount of Spam, Phishing and other ‘non-useful’ posts on your Blog/ Forum/ Web Page? They sure can. Can they drive people who actually _want_ to talk to you insane? Well, apart from the fact that anybody who wants to talk to _me_ must be crazy already :-P, yes. They sure can.

    Managing the type of input we don’t want is part of the job. Ticking off, alienating or otherwise negatively impacting the people with whom we want to communicate, converse and confabulate? Kind of a bad idea.

    Does that make the whole ‘Social Media’ thing harder? More time consuming? A total pain in the keister?


    Is that a good reason to make our own lives easier by making the lives of our audiences even a little harder?


    It’s a bit like any technology. If you want to hear Louis Armstrong play the trumpet, you have to accept the possibility someone else is going to use the same principles to invent the vuvuzela – and sometimes even have to listen to it :-P.

  5. #9 by amyshojai on September 20, 2011 - 9:27 am

    You validated me–thanks! I hate those jump-thru-hoops sorts of folks. Already spending too much time on pretzel-izing myself to fit other requirements, don’t need any more.

  6. #10 by ann foweraker on September 20, 2011 - 9:29 am

    As a newby to Twitter i find your blogs so very useful. Not had (fingers crossed) a hacker or ordinary spammer yet but am amazed how twitter somehow links you up with people based on a word you may have both written (ie …I mentioned our pet goat…next day a girl who had written about ‘goats clearing disused land’ in the US was following me..almost creepy!
    And I still am not sure how to tell a real person from a bot .. or a real person who uses somekind of bot to post. I recently unfollowed someone whose tweets filled my pages.. not because they were bot produced but because they were repetative (over the long term) and getting to be annoying (perhaps he used a bot to keep retweeting – though they did arrive in bursts rather than at even spacings). I may still visit his blog now and again as there was a lot of interesting content.. but he’s driven me away from his twitter account by over tweeting.
    keep up the good work and thanks

  7. #11 by Elizabeth Anne Mitchell on September 20, 2011 - 9:30 am

    Kristen, thanks for illuminating the dark corners of the DM-bots. I especially like the “no-need-for-validation” line. If we’re trying to get people to read our stuff, why would we set fire to hoops and put them in the way?

  8. #12 by Nancy J Nicholson on September 20, 2011 - 9:37 am

    Thanks Kristen! You put into words what I’ve suspected all along. I try to be careful, but it only takes one click when you thought you were somewhere else to get you.

  9. #13 by the writ and the wrote on September 20, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Wonderful post. So far, i haven’t had a problem, but I’m definitely not afraid to block and report people, whether on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t need any more drama in my life than I already have.

  10. #14 by Diane Henders on September 20, 2011 - 11:18 am

    Sometimes the bots find you for utterly innocuous words, too. Yesterday, they got me for tweeting “groceries”. Go figure. I also got a rather entertaining bot that offered to eat my brains after I tweeted “zombies”.

    Thanks for the advice about blocking. It’s good to know how to deal with these things. 🙂

  11. #15 by Anne R. Allen on September 20, 2011 - 11:23 am

    Thanks for clearing this up. I’ve been getting a bunch of DMs from unlikely people telling me they have a LOL picture or video of me. I knew it was a scam, but I haven’t done anything about it. Next time I’ll report them.

  12. #16 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on September 20, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    Nuke the spammers!

  13. #17 by katewoodauthor on September 20, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the great advice, Dr. Twuth! I’ve got some potential spammers in mind already… ;p

  14. #18 by Barbara McDowell on September 20, 2011 - 2:22 pm

    This is perfect timing for me as well Kristen! I’ve recently gotten several of those “saw funny pic of you” messages. Tricky bots. Will keep reporting.

    Is there a way to do an intervention on the folks that make us use Captcha to log comments? I read and comment a lot on blogs via tablet and have lost comments multiple times while “swyping” through these hoops. Beyond frustrating.

  15. #19 by Su on September 20, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    I needed this blog post a few days ago. But I’m glad to read it now. Thanks for the great info.

  16. #20 by Renee Schuls-Jacobson on September 20, 2011 - 5:01 pm

    So awesome! @LizMcLennan and I stumbled upon a person who was very nasty. Neither of us knew this guy/girl/bot, so after a quick tag team decision, we decided to report him/her/it. Person/bot called me the word that starts with a “b” and rhymes with “itch” one time too many. If I wanted that kind of treatment, I could just call my sister-law. 😉 Thank you for the affirmation that it’s okay to lose those toxic tweeps.

  17. #21 by Angela Wallace on September 20, 2011 - 9:33 pm

    I just sent a message and thought about doing that funky word fiddling, but didn’t. And the bots found me. They’re pretty quick. Now I’m paranoid about tweeting! I will not be afraid to block and report.

  18. #22 by Sonia G Medeiros on September 20, 2011 - 11:24 pm

    I’ve had that whole bot jumping on me thing because I mentioned an i-pad or some such. Annoying. I generally block and report any spam. Seems like there’s a lot of hacking and such going on lately. Lots of odd DMs from folks. Is this usual or is there an epidemic on?

  19. #23 by Guerrilla Wordfare on September 20, 2011 - 11:24 pm

    What’s amazing to think is how much time and effort they put into their bots and schemes. Imagine how much they would make if they focused on something legit.

  20. #24 by Suzanne Lucero (@S_Lucero) on September 21, 2011 - 6:41 am

    I get the occasional spam-bot. Personally, I ignore them. I don’t care who or what their profile pic is, I always click on it to discover their Twitter history. If it’s the same tweet over and over sent to different people, I ignore, although your suggestion to block and report is something I didn’t realize I could do. So, I suggest the next bot to follow me better watch out. I’m armed (or fingered) and dangerous.

    Oh, and the little trick with odd cApitAlizAtion and hy_phen-ation of key words is gooood, not to mention misspellings and so forth. But the computer’s auto-highlight of my mistakes is sure going to have a work-out.

  21. #25 by educlaytion on September 21, 2011 - 8:31 am

    You’ve said it all I think. Sometimes when I’m feeling extra spry I’ll tweet keywords from spam heaven and then glare at the internet just daring them to try it.

  22. #26 by Marilag Lubag on September 26, 2011 - 2:57 am

    Problem for all seasons! How to avoid bots.

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