Spamdetector sniffs out spammer accounts, which Twitter then deletes
Researchers recently launched a free spam-filtering service for Twitter that flags offenders for the microblogging service, which, in turn, removes the offending accounts.
The Spamdetector service crawls Twitter, using heuristics to detect spam accounts. Gianluca Stringhini, the researcher heading up the service, says the tool has a low false-positive rate.
"Around a year ago, we started observing these [social] networks, looking for malicious traffic…spammers show a very different behavior compared to real users, and therefore we were able to build a system that can detect them in a reliable way," says Stringhini, a researcher at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
Twitter already offers its users a button for reporting possible spam, but it relies on the user to spot suspicious tweets. The social network last week also added a new service that detects malicious URLs in an effort to quell the rise in spam and phishing on the network. It ultimately will scan all URLs before they hit the Twitter feed, but initially is doing so only for URLs sent via Twitter direct messages [DMs] and email notifications about DMs.
To be sure, abuse on Twitter is on the rise: One in eight Twitter accounts was found to be suspicious, malicious, or suspended last year, according to a recent report from Barracuda Networks. And Twitter itself currently finds 3 to 4 percent of accounts to be malicious, according to Barracuda’s data.