Twitter hash tag abuse & spam, are you guilty?

12 CommentsOn: Twitter hash tag abuse & spam, are you guilty?


There are quite a few spam techniques used by people on Twitter who want to get their content noticed. Well, I don’t want to talk about spam-spam but more, about ‘missuse’ of Twitter Hashtags and what’s become of direct messages. I mean they might as well dump DM’s and be done with it as far as I’m concerned, but let’s delve a little deeper. This is more of a discussion and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on each point below in the comments section. Let’s start off by revising…

The hashtags original purpose

A hashtag is similar to other web tags- it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the ‘hash’ or ‘pound’ symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday, #hashtag. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet… – Twitter

How many hashtags make a tweet, spam?

2, 3, 4, 5 – Where do we draw the line?

3 or more is on the verge of making the tweet feel  ’spammy’ which would make most users treat you & your tweet with disdain and in most cases, plain ignore it, even if it’s a great link.
How many hashtags does it take before you ignore the tweet or the user?

do you consider Hashtag Slang spam?


The use of the hashtag in this scenario goes against what the hashtag is meant for, however It gives the tweet some extra oomph. In most cases this would be harmless if the hash tag you’re using is not popular. There are cases where you may unintentionally be tweeting your hashtag into a conversation that has nothing to do with it, and in that case I would consider it; spam.

For all I know, #godieinafire could be the name of a band, has this ever happened to you before?
Occasionally you see tweets in a hashtag stream that are obviously out of place, and more than likely unintentionally, because let’s face it, when you type #godieinafire, you don’t check if the tag is being used for something first.

Have you ever had an interesting conversation start from the ‘misuse’ of a Twitter hashtag?

Direct messages

Ah, direct messages, the sewer mutants of the twitter underworld. Generally when you get a DM you are immediately suspicious of that user as a spammer or some back-ally marketing team. A huge percentage of DM’s are automated ‘thank you for following’ or self promotions to ‘check out my cool site’ which – if you think about it, is not so bad. Why then, do we hate it so much?

Are you a victim of improper hashtag usage, a ‘innocent’ culprit, do you think direct messages are useful? Put forward your points if you agree or disagree, in the comments below.

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Justin Carroll
September 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm #1

interesting points, agree with most of them but i do find direct messages helpful…. mostly

September 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm #2

hehehe I’m going to start using hashatgs like that! looks interesting!

Trevor Sullivan
October 1, 2010 at 9:10 am #3

To answer the question in your closing post, why do we hate automated DMs so much? It’s because automated messages are totally effortless and meaningless. I don’t care about, and I don’t need everyone to thank me for following them. Really, I don’t. I follow people if they provide good content on Twitter, and pretty much NEVER if they’re a Twitterbot / automated tweeter.

But yeah, this is a great article. It reflects most of my personal views on hashtag abuse.

Trevor Sullivan

October 1, 2010 at 9:45 am #4

Thanks for the input guys, nice to see everyone’s viewpoint :)

@Trevor I agree with you, personally I also find DM’s pointless.

Trevor Sullivan
October 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm #5

The thing I forgot to add is that the DMs I get are actually useful, and directed at me. They are rare, but I’m ok with that; If you know me personally, I’d rather you just shoot me an e-mail than DM me on Twitter (which *also* results in an e-mail).

Why do I only get useful DMs? Because my Twitter followers are people, not bots — if I see a bot follow me, or write a public message to me (@pcgeek86), I will typically block them and report them as spam. My goal is not to have 8 thousand useless Twitter followers; I’d rather have just 500 actual, real people.

October 1, 2010 at 8:51 pm #6

@Trevor, but that’s if they know you personally, what happens when your connecting with new people, while most DM’s are ‘spammy’ there are some genuinely good people who use direct messages to communicate.

Not every DM is from a bot, but the stereotype currently is that most users will generally treat a user with disdain or un-follow them for sending something as simple as a “thankyou for following me” which while unnecessary, is no cause for all the DM hatred, of which I am also Guilty off, I usually ignore DM’s as I have yet to come across a one with purpose.

As you say, if someone wants to contact me, they send me a mail via the site, So I wonder… should twitter kill the Direct Message feature?

Trevor Sullivan
October 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm #7

Well, it appears that perhaps we have different views of DMs. They come in handy occasionally when one of my followers wants to send a short note, but like I said, I don’t get spammy DMs, because my list of followers, and people I follow, is small. I never get DMs saying “thanks for following me,” or similar. I would surmise that this is due to you and me having a different audience on Twitter. I interact almost exclusively with techies, many of which don’t put in the extra effort to say “thanks.” If they do, they’ll simply publicly say “thanks for retweeting” — that is, at least to me, what is stereotypical with my Twitterosphere :)

Regarding the DM feature as a whole … I wouldn’t really care if they killed it. I have a link to my blog in my profile, and I freely distribute my e-mail address if people would like to contact me ( I guess other people may not be quite so liberal with providing their e-mail address, so it’s possible that other people have a need for DM that I don’t.


December 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm #8

I think everything you have stated above is true with the exception of DMs. I use them for more private conversations with people on twitter and I would be sad if they went away.
Hashtag abuse:
Something I’ve noticed, suppose people think it’s funny-and it was at first- is when people tag complete sentences for no apparent reason. Sometimes they do it multiple times in a tweet and are possibly guilty of doing it in virtually every tweet. Frequently you have to decipher the damn sentence because all the words are bunched together since it’s a hashtag!
It’s ridiculous, it makes no sense, and it’s quite annoying.

December 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm #9

I’ve only been really getting into twitter, and there is so much I don’t know, just recently understanding hashtags, don’t understand why you have to have a million followers, why is that?

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