With Twitter now more than 100 million accounts strong, and with 50 million Tweets per day, you might be excused for thinking there's no stopping the micro-blogging network. Until, that is, you start exploring the darkside of Twitter. But is Twitter evil?
You only have to look at the IT news headlines over the last year to realise that Twitter has something of a security problem. Hacking the NASA Twitter Account , Tory Twitter account hacked , First Tweet Bombing, is a Twitter Denial of Service attack next? and Twitter gets knickers in a twist over security scare being just a small handful of examples.
So perhaps it should come as no great surprise that, according to a new security report from Barracuda Networks published today, all is not quite what it seems as far as Twitter is concerned. The Barracuda Labs folk looked at in excess of 25 million Twitter accounts in order to measure and analyse account behaviour. By so doing, it hoped to be able to model 'normal user' behaviour and thus identify those features which would strongly indicate illegitimate and malicious account usage. The key areas it explored were: True Twitter Users, Twitter Crime Rate and Tweet Numbers.
The researchers discovered that True Twitter Users, which they define as those who have at least 10 followers and in turn follow at least 10 people and have Tweeted at least 10 times, are increasing and Tweeting more often. They also discovered that alongside this increase in user activity was a parallel increase in malicious activity. Indeed, the Twitter Crime Rate which is defined as being that percentage of Twitter accounts created per month which have been suspended for malicious or suspicious activity now stands at 1.67 percent. Given the size and growth of Twitter, that's an awful lot of malicious account creation.
The report further suggests that when it comes to the magic Tweet Numbers, the average number of Tweets per user per day, that half of all Twitter users Tweet less than once per day. Some 30 percent of users have never Tweeted at all, and 10 percent Tweet more than five times a day. One in every eight Twitter users has at least 10 times more followers than they are following, but only one in 10 is following more than 100 users.
All very interesting stuff, and there can be no doubt that there's an increasing amount of malicious activity on Twitter be that simple spam or complex phishing schemes. However, in answer to the question 'is Twitter evil?' there can only be one response and that is meh. Of course Twitter is not evil, although quite a few of the people who use it are despicable criminal types.