Just recently Twitter began the much-needed stance to suspend users practicing the controversial “Twitter Game” (as I call it). On the Twitter developers mailing list, Twitter developer Doug Williams told me yesterday that users who “use software to constantly churn followers in a repeated pattern of following and unfollowing will … risk suspension.” This new rule was confirmed to me by several other Twitter users that Twitter customer support is also confirming that this is happening.
The “Twitter Game” was the topic of a podcast I participated in a few months back with Lucretia Pruitt and Jim Turner hosting. The practice centers around following as many people as you can (up to the 1,000 users per day limit that Twitter has imposed), continuing such practice until the ratio of following 10-20% more than those following you is reached. Then users would unfollow the users that don’t follow them back. This practice increases the number of followers of any particular user, theoretically providing a much larger reach for the user or brand doing such. Other similar techniques involve using tools such as Twollo and Hummingbird to find new people to follow that might follow back, and share links under multiple accounts with those individuals.
With Twitter taking a stance against this practice, this means no longer will users be able to quickly inflate their numbers and get around the ratios Twitter has put in place to keep this “gaming” from happening. From users I have talked to, some over major brands, some are not happy. The threat of suspension will come welcome to those getting tired of meaningless followers however. While not a welcome sight to some, it is simply a change in “Game”. Users will need to adapt and use more effective methods of gaining new followers, such as maybe, providing good content? Regardless, I expect people to continue to find new ways to game the system. We’ll see if Twitter can win this “Rat Race”.