Twitter Development and Follow Blacklists

I’ve been playing with a new site lately that will be doing some integration with Twitter (more about that later). I realized the other day that several people that were following me, but I wasn’t following, weren’t being added to my friends list with my Twitter auto follow script.

I researched the issue, and realized that while the API calls were being made, and Twitter was responding as though I was now following them, when I would go back to the Twitter UI it would show up as myself not following them still.

For those unaware, there is a Twitter Development Google group that you can subscribe to to discuss Twitter development. The Twitter devs follow this group and openly answer questions about Twitter development. I mentioned my problem there, and after some going back and forth to convince them there was a problem, they responded.

It turns out that Twitter actually has their own Blacklist internally. If you try to follow too many people within a short time you can easily, at least temporarily, get blacklisted from anyone following you, or you following anyone else. This is why my API calls were not working on some individuals – at the API level Twitter acts as though they are being followed, but in the end they aren’t. The Twitter devs said they are working on a better blacklisting system for the future, and will expose the API to that when it becomes available.

So, for those holding out for ability to blacklist spammers on Facebook, it could be coming soon! It also brings comfort that Twitter is also taking measures to combat spam.

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