Is this Twitter follower real or a spam account?

Bad news – an awful lot of your followers aren’t real people but fake ‘bot’ (robot) followers. They follow people for a variety of reasons including hoping to get you to follow them (so that they start to look more real and valuable). You might be followed by several similar accounts in a short space of time and it takes a while to get a good sense of whether or not an account is fake.

Any of these ‘behaviours’ suggest that a follower might be fake, but remember that they’re also done by people new to Twitter – so avoid jumping to conclusions.

  • A username with a lot of alphanumeric characters – while some use this deliberately (and you’ll see that they are actively tweeting and interacting with people) mostly these are fake accounts sending out generic, identical replies.
  • An ‘egg’ for an avatar – this is the default picture on Twitter and while some have never changed this image it’s a good idea to do so.
  • Following many (especially celebrity accounts) but only followed by few – be careful, they may have just joined and begun following a lot of people before getting going. Twitter actively encourages new users to follow celebrity accounts by making them very prominent during the registration process. You can look at their profile to see when they joined though.
  • Zero tweets – but don’t forget that people can use Twitter as they please and they might just want to follow some accounts for news only and don’t want to tweet their own stuff. Spam accounts also do this though.
  • Posting the same (nearly identical) tweets as other people

You can do a reverse image search on their avatar (profile picture) and see if it’s been taken from stock photography resources, or stolen from another user and you can search for a phrase from one of their tweets and see if loads of accounts are tweeting the same thing. Similarly for links (be cautious about clicking on the link but it’s safe to search for the link).

Mostly it’s down your own judgement – you’re not required to do anything about spam accounts but reporting the obvious ones improves the Twitter ecosystem for everyone.

Further reading
Reporting spam on Twitter from Twitter Support

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