Follow suggested users, attract instant spamcloud
Despite Twitter’s amazing growth rate, there is general agreement that the Suggested Users List and the new user experience has shortcomings. As an experiment, I created a new Twitter account. I wanted to see what the experience might look like for someone interested in, but otherwise completely unfamiliar with the service. During the signup process, it automatically picks some suggested users (apparently random), which I selected all of, about a dozen or so. Then it asked for my email credentials to check for other people I know on Twitter, which I declined, since I generally don’t give web applications access to my email services. Then I went back to “Suggested Users” under the “Find People” section, and selected all of them. In total, the Suggested Users list got me up to 237 friends in my incoming stream.
Within a few minutes of completing this process, I already had 13 spam followers offering affiliate links for cameras, porn, and twitter followers. A day later I was up to 41 spam followers, plus 4 follow-backs from accounts I followed in addition to the Suggested Users List.
There are two different issues here: 1) finding a set of interesting / relevant people for new users to follow, and 2) limiting the impact of spam and affiliate marketers, who appear to be scanning the follower lists of the Suggested Users to identify new accounts to spam.