Taking a Stand on Twitter’s Auto-DM Policy #endautodm

buck stops hereI’ve long mentioned my annoyance with automatic DMs after follow and elsewhere. It’s one of the reasons I built SocialToo, and we’re doing things there to combat the process. Unfortunately it’s not perfect. In fact, even with the anti-spam measures SocialToo has in place, it’s getting to the point that most of the DMs I receive are non-legitimate messages that many of the users probably have no idea were sent on their behalf. My other followers get hurt because of that because I can often miss their messages. Chris Brogan mentions fun140.com, which I admit recently is a major perpetrator of my DMs. But there are others too: Tweetlater (which has the ability to opt out, and we’ll even do it for you on SocialToo), Twollow, Twollo, Mob Wars, SpyMaster, and many others. Too many to know which one needs to go to and opt out of, assuming they even have a solution (which most do not).

Twitter could fix this easily. Facebook already does this – they allow users to identify that they do not want to receive any more messages or invites from a specific app. Then, the minute they do that, the app can keep sending invites, but that user will never see them again. In addition, the app gets dinged a “spaminess score”, reducing the number of app invites it can send out per user. Users have full control, and they can still be friends with people that like to use these apps.

Twitter needs a similar system – it wouldn’t be very hard to require all apps to identify themselves via a developer Terms Of Service (I’ve talked about this before), either by OAuth or some other means, and then provide the tools necessary to allow users to opt out of receiving DMs and @mentions generated by these applications if the user does not want to receive them. Based on a current discussion in the developers mailing list for Twitter, I’m guessing developers wouldn’t be opposed, either. At the very least, open up the API to allow the identification of these applications while requiring them to identify themselves. Blacklist and ban the applications not willing to comply.


I’m getting sick of the auto-dms. Chris Brogan is sick. Sean Percival is sick. Robert Scoble is sick. Jeremiah Owyang is sick. The list goes on and on, and we’re not the only ones. Starting today I’m taking a stand. I want to show what my inbox looks like right now. For that reason, I’ve taken a screenshot of my Twitter DM box and posted it as my Twitter avatar. If you are against this practice, change your avatar to your own DM inbox, and retweet this to your followers (click on it, and it will auto-populate Twitter for you):

I’m changing my avatar to my Twitter DM inbox in protest of automated DMs on Twitter #endautodm

You can include a link to this article if you like, but that’s not required. I want to send a message to Twitter that this is a serious problem. It’s time to end automated direct messages once and for all. I’m done with them. Will you join me?

Here’s a FriendFeed Real-time search of #endautodm – will you contribute? Just end your tweets with #endautodm:


20 thoughts on “Taking a Stand on Twitter’s Auto-DM Policy #endautodm

  1. Bravo! Getting more and more spam DMs and getting sick of it! I was at a “Social Media Conference” recently (and I use the term lightly) and they actually recommended sending auto DMs and Scheduled Tweets. I felt like standing up and waving my arms and screaming, “Nooooooooo…”



  2. 140fun is the worst of them. They make up 95% of the spam auto-dms I receive and they provide absolutely no opt-out (not to mention they don't tweet back to complaints with their own Twitter account).

    Thank you for taking up the cause Jesse. I'm 100% behind this.


  3. The whole auto reply issue is noting more than spam as you said. I think I am going to unfollow anyone that auto dms me going forward.


  4. Deborah, yes, I recommend unfollowing them and marking them as auto-dmers in
    SocialToo. You can add them to you auto-dmer list under the preferences
    tab, under “unfollowing preferences” on the left navigation menu.


  5. Why are these services sending DMs anyway? Why not just send @ messages? Anyone sending me an @ is far more likely to get it seen and receive a response than having their message lost in the flood of DMs that hit my inbox. I do scan them but am bound to miss some.

    DMs should be for exchanging personal information and messages we don't want to go public – NOT as a vehicle for even more spam than we already have to put up with everywhere else!


  6. The whole auto reply issue is noting more than spam as you said. I think I am going to unfollow anyone that auto dms me going forward.


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