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.

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.

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