Twitter recently made a change to their service that makes it impossible to repost the same Tweet within a certain amount of time; probably 24 hours. Some people say that Twitter wants to make life more difficult for spammers. However, I think their approach is so misguided and ineffective that I suspect entirely different reasons.
Why post duplicate Tweets?
The reason I have been posting Tweets more than once (both privately and professionally) was to accommodate followers in different time zones. Using the excellent mmmeeja-mashup on Yahoo pipes I have been able to see that on my private Twitter account I have a lot of followers in Europe and a lot in the Eastern United States. The geographical spread is even bigger for my work-account.
In order to reach them, I reposted each important Tweet (i.e. not every Tweet) once, normally eight to 12 hours after the original message. To do this I was using Hootsuite which has a very easy to use “pending tweets” functionality.
The (lack of ) effect of the changes
I can’t do this any more since Twitter will not allow me to post exactly the same message within a few hours. Of course, all I have to do to prevent the Tweet from being blocked is change a few characters: I might remove one hashtag, add quotation marks to the title or do a similar minimal change and voilà – the Tweet goes through.
Am I the only one who thinks that spammers will find a way to make these changes automatically? After all: they can get around the restriction, simply by adding three random characters to the end of each Tweet – or by adding @<random username> to the beginning.
So from a spam-prevention perspective I think that this is one of the least efficient measures that I have ever seen. And I’m sure the guys at Twitter are aware of it. Why not do it differently and limit the amount of Tweets that can be sent per hour to, say 120?
Just an excuse?
I think the real reason for this change might not have been to fight spam at all but to deal with the capacity problems that Twitter is experiencing. Considering how often I’ve seen the fail-whale over the last weeks, I can see how Twitter might have been desperate to find a quick and dirty solution to reduce the volume of Tweets. Blocking duplicate Tweets could have been the easiest way to cut 5 to 10 per cent from the volume.
Duplicate posts on Twitter – acceptable or a real pain? Please leave a comment and tell me what you think!