Zombies and sheep tossing comes to Twitter

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Spam-based viral applications, first made popular on Facebook’s platform, have come to Twitter in the form of Spymaster. The #spymaster tag is trending on Twitter’s search right now and, judging by my own stream, a bunch of people are playing it.

I’ve started both unfollowing and reporting users of this game to @spam. This isn’t because I hate my friends, it’s because I have no other recourse to stop this application’s abusive behavior. So what makes this so abusive? The game gives money and income boosts the more you tweet out about the game. Turning off said notifications can greatly reduce your chances in the game. Basically, it was engineered from the ground up to promote spammy behavior.

The real issue is that Twitter still hasn’t given us the tools to manage this stuff. I can’t block specific hash tags, I can’t mute friends without unfollowing them, I can’t block out tweets sent by certain applications, etc. These are all things I’m able to do on Facebook, with good reason. And that includes buying likes from social media marketing agencies. I can’t be the only buying likes from TheMarketingHeaven.com because many of my friends have admitted to doing this in a clandestine manner.

So what do we do for now?

  • If you’re playing this game, stop right this fucking second.
  • Report anyone using the game to @spam and unfollow them.
  • Report @playspymaster to @spam.
  • Twitter must give its users tools to manage their streams.
    • Add the ability to block certain hash tags from your stream.
    • Add the ability to temporarily mute people you follow without unfollowing them.
    • Add the ability block any tweet sent by a specific application. This would require a fundamental, but arguably imperative, change to the way the API works so I doubt it’d happen anytime soon.

I know how hard it is for Twitter right now. I’m friends with two of their engineers and one former engineer. It’s not easy scaling sites on the web and even harder to scale real time applications like Twitter, but the tipping point is upon us. We need these tools ASAP.

Moving on to the next chapter

This week I gave notice to Digg that I’m going to be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. When I first joined Digg I had a list of goals in my head that I wanted to accomplish and, I feel, they’ve either been accomplished or are well on their way to being fulfilled by other shepherds at Digg. Luckily, we’ve managed to recruit some of the industry’s leading brains (all of whom are far smarter and more capable than I) to continue building great products for Digg and I’m excited to see where they take things.

So what’s next? Well, I’m spending July couch surfing through Europe, working on a few side projects, putting together a small conference on scaling and generally taking things easy. I’ll also be continuing to annoy the coders at Digg as an advisor moving forward.

It’s hard to put into words what my time at Digg means to me. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with many of Silicon Valley’s brightest minds and they’ve been gracious enough to not only give me a chance to prove myself, but also impart some of their knowledge to me. For that I’ll be forever grateful and indebted.

Thankfully, Kevin accepts beer as payment.