Twitter auto-follow software – OK or not?

by danperry on April 7, 2009

in twitter

I’ve been followed by the same person > 6 times in the past month, which is a tell-tale sign that they are using some sort of software to increase their follower count. (I’m not going to go into details; if interested in this, you should be able to find it easily enough.)

The bigger question I’d like answered is why? Why is follower # valuable, when (in essence) you cheat to gain those followers? So, I asked the individual, and the Q & A follow.

Our exchange began on March 21, when I tweeted the following 4 tweets:

Why have you followed me 4-5 times in the past week? Is it that software or something else?

If you don’t know what I mean by software, check out this blog post:

If it’s Twitter being buggy, it happens. Just wondering.

If you are using that auto-follow software, please stop. You’re too good for that.

He sent me an email explaining that he was “testing some stuff.” Fair enough.

Then this morning, he followed me twice in about 15 minutes. I then tweeted:

Finding it hard to believe you’re not using the cheater software when u follow me 2X today & 6X in the past month. Please stop.

He then sent me a tweet alerting me that he had just sent me an email. The email said:

Here are instructions for blocking me:

To which I replied:

I’d prefer not to have to block you. From what I know of you, you’re too good to be doing this. Can I ask why? I’m interested in the reason you need to do this, and potentially ruin your reputation.

His response:

I use automatic tools to follow a large number of people that I’ve worked to identify as like-minded individuals. I don’t consider my practice to be spamming, unethical, etc. and I describe it openly when I discuss it with friends and colleagues.

I respect the opinion of anyone who disagrees with my methods. So far I’ve had one or two complaints from people affected. Though I’m sure there are many others, I have judged the risk that people will be upset to be far outweighed by the benefit to me and my followers. I spend several hours every day reading resources and passing on the best ones to my followers. See (link removed) for more on this.

I really do respect your opinion and right to privacy. If you prefer not to block me because you feel you might benefit from my Tweets and RTs, you could block me and subscribe to my blog feed. Every day I summarize the previous day’s tweets: (link removed)

So this creates a bunch of questions for me.
Is this OK? Is this a good enough reason to use this software? (he’s > 9,000 followers as of this morning; about 6,000 a few weeks ago.)

Am I just overreacting in thinking this just doesn’t seem right?

I use Twitter to converse with people about SEO, golf, automotive and Chicago. I don’t use it for business purposes. He’s in a position where he is using it for business purposes. Does that make it OK? Do the rules change?

What do you think? I can’t wait to hear your replies.

If you like this post you might enjoy following me on Twitter:

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