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.

You can't have it both ways

I just had a good friend send me a video that they had posted to Vimeo with the caveat that I not share it elsewhere. A public video. On a video sharing website.

This isn’t the first time such things have happened. I’ve had other friends tweet out “Having beers at Zeitgeist with a bunch of my friends. Come join us!” and then get angry when a person they didn’t “invite” showed up.

An here we are, the insanity of social norms being transformed by social networks before our very eyes. Somehow it’s acceptable to post a public video on a video sharing website, but not kosher for me to post that link in a chat room. It’s okay to post a public invite that’s disseminated to hundreds or thousands of people on a public service, but not okay for someone you don’t like to show up “uninvited”. And this is the inherent bullshit that’s being woven into social networking. You can’t have it both ways. You’ve got to think before you post every detail of your life to the internet. You have to have thick skin. You have to be okay with who you are and what you do as a person.

Because you can’t have it both ways.

Cross posting is bad for the internets

With services like del.icio.usTwitterPownceTumblrFriendFeed, etc. there has been a rise in something that I consider highly insidious – cross posting. Cross posting is the exact opposite of post aggregation and should be discouraged and, in my opinion, treated as spam.

  1. It increases noise. I’m following you only on Twitter for a reason. It’s not so I can get pinged every time you post something new to one of the 30 social sites you’re on. It’s so I can get your thoughts, musings and annoyances in little 140 character pieces throughout the day.
  2. It hurts usability. Not only do I have to log in and take action on Twitter or del.icio.us, but I also have to go and log into Pownce or Facebook to see what you really posted.

I’ve unfollowed people that actively practice this (including a good friend whom I’ll leave nameless). I don’t have any problems with posting the same thing to two different networks. Just don’t automate it and don’t make me jump through hoops to get to the end result. 

UPDATE: I also hate it when people automatically tell me where they are on Twitter via the billion different location services. If I really care to stalk you I’ll follow you on Brightkite, Dodgeball, etc. 

UPDATE: Updating your Facebook feed with your Twitter status isn’t too bad with the exception that it still kind of messes up usability since my Facebook friends probably have no idea who @a is.