Twitter blocks duplicate posts

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?

Duplicates can be beautiful (Photo: OctoberCrystal)

Duplicates can be beautiful (Photo: OctoberCrystal)

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!

  • Glad you like like my Yahoo Pipe. Lots of people found it to be useful

  • I have had this problem, too. I don't know what the rationale is, but it is definitely annoying. I had been contemplating your workaround of changing a few characters, and I guess that's the way I'll have to go.

  • I suspect that Twitter did make this move to deal with its capacity issues (especially as Lists bring more people back to the web interface) as well as spam issues – but what's really interesting to me is that I didn't even notice this change until you and some others mentioned it!

    • If you are using a third party client r service (which of course you'll have to do if you want to schedule tweets) then you can't see the error message. The only reason I saw it was because I noticed that a tweet hadn't gone out through hootsuite as planned. But since I was still sitting in front of the computer, I decided to quickly do it manually through the web interface – and that's where all of a sudden I saw that error message.