Effective Immediately- No More Auto-Follow

If I’m not following you on Twitter, please send an @message to request. I’ll follow as many back as I can.

Effective immediately, I’m no longer going to follow people back on Twitter automatically.

The reason is simple: Twitter would rather permit 3rd party applications to empower users to direct message me their stupid spam messages. The #1 culprit of this experience is http://www.fun140.com . (To be clear, fun140 believes they’re empowering a really fun way to use Twitter. Swell. Just don’t involve me.)

The problem is this: I can’t really keep up with manually following people back. Thus, suddenly, people are going to start thinking I’m snobby because I’m not following them back.

I can’t fix this. I can’t help. I can’t maintain the level of spam DMs in my inbox and so, I’ll do what I can to follow back people who contact me via @messages.

Sorry. It’s not you. It’s me.

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  • http://www.rachel-levy.com Rachel Levy

    Well said. Thx… Twitter needs to do something about auto-DM's and fun DM's like this. It will end up ruining Twitter.

  • http://www.mnheadhunter.com/ Paul DeBettignies


    This craziness that we need to follow those who follow is just that, crazy. Last I checked I am not being followed back by 400 or so people and I am not following back more than that.

    Is my experience any less for it? I doubt it.

    Chris, if anyone stops following you because of this or does not in the future, shame on them and their loss.


  • toulakarayannis

    ah, chris dont fret…as wonderful as you and your contribution to twitopolis are, you are still but a mere mortal…the last time i checked there were 24 hours in the day for all of us…we will always appreciate what you gift to us, whether you follow us or not…rest easy…

  • http://www.studio-747.com/ Maria Palma

    I've never tried the auto-follow software, but after seeing all the junk that's starting to surface on Twitter and reading this post, I think I'll stick with manual following people. It is time consuming, but having to sort through all kinds of direct message spam is more of a headache.

    Thanks, Chris!
    (BTW I'm “@studio747″ on Twitter)

  • http://twitter.com/GarinKilpatrick Garin Kilpatrick

    Twitter needs to crack down on Websites that abuse the API. I was furious when one site I used even sent out a tweet without my permission! I do not check my dms regularly because so many are spam. Generic auto-message should be banned from Twitter!

  • http://twitter.com/GarinKilpatrick Garin Kilpatrick

    Generic auto-messages should be banned from Twitter!

  • megfowler

    Trying to think of really good spammy DMs to send you.

  • nicolefrance5

    I completely agree…I am able to keep up with my followers at the moment so I am able to personally chose who I follow. I immediately delete spammers.

  • http://www.mikestenger.com Mike Stenger

    Can't blame u dude. I'll continue to follow you anyways. HOWEVER, you did know that you can opt-out of receiving “gifts” & DM's from Fun140, right?

    Not sure if I can post a link but simply do a Google search for “fun140 optout” and follow the easy instructions.


  • http://twitter.com/TheDailyHerb Gyan Baird

    Don't worry, as long as I can follow you, I'm happy. I cannot follow everyone and I'm not being snobby. I just simply can't manage that many people/relationships. I like to check every new follower out. I read their tweetstreams. If it's polluted, I don't follow. Sometimes, the spammers slip through and I get the same kind of BS DMs. Then, I block. But, hey, I don't have the number of followers you do…that would take some serious time.

  • http://www.dracotorre.com/blog/ David G Shrock

    It would be nice if the games like fun140 were considerate by only involving those choosing to participate. Upsetting other users is not a good marketing angle. And DM is probably not the best use for a game. I don't want to have to optout of every game that pops up. Instead, I'll use filters or unfollow heavy spammers. Much easier.

  • http://twitter.com/zaneology Zane Aveton

    I stopped following everyone back b/c of auto DMs right before SXSW this year and added “Happy to Follow Engaging People. @ me  ” to my BIO…

    Then, I send a general tweets out similar to this: “Hi! I do not use autofollow, but I love hearing from you! @ me to get on my follow back radar :) ”

    I know there are sooo many people who use programs to initiate a new profile follow on Twitter then UNfollow those same profiles when they have not been followed back in a pre-set amount of time (because of the Twitter gap rules following vs. who follow back). They followed me because they want the follow back, not necessarily to read my tweets. I see that evidence whenever I have a spare 5 mins. and I take a peek at my first few pages of latest followers and each time I note that the faces & names have all changed in a very un-proportionate # vs. the # of new followers. I’m okay with that…I want the followers who really want to “be here” :) and, I love that I know everything about each and every person I follow because we talk on Twitter AND I'm observing their tweets.

    I’m here to discover, learn, engage, LOVE, connect, grow, laugh, make someone laugh and be a part a community that is interactive, strong and supportive. I am honored when someone chooses to (really) follow me. What a gift.

    Sure…I know I could have retained a higher # of followers with autofollow all this time, but from the moment I stopped autofollowing, my DM inbox has been auto dm/spam free and that right there is no contest…I sometimes wonder about the “relationship that could have been” because we never got to engage…but my Twitter Experience is so rewarding right now.

    Now..if only Twitter would #fixreplies — SO THE REAL EFFORTLESS MAGICAL DISCOVERY will make a reappearance. :)

    It's how I originally found you… :)

    Twitter Love & Respect Always,


  • BoonKwee

    I think it would work better if it was an opt in system and not an opt out system. For instance, the first time someone sends you a tweet from these games and gifts style twitter sites, you choose your opt in by visiting the site. I think most people are ticked off because permission was not first given.

  • http://www.mikestenger.com Mike Stenger

    Oh yeah, no doubt man. Totally agree ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/konatbone Travis

    Quizzes are for the kids, if you don't like quizzes, don't follow the kids.

    The problem Chris is that you auto-follow 88K people you don't know. Many of them are teenagers that like quizzes. They dm the few people that follow them. What do you expect when you mindlessly follow 88k people? I don't see how you can call it spam when you chose to follow someone and that someone sends all their friends a message. It's no different for quizzes on facebook, or any other platform.

    The fun140 guys are good guys trying to bring casual games to twitter and actually have just under 100k followers themselves. So yes, it is time for you to stop auto-following people. You hung in there longer than most, but it's not the casual gaming guys who caused your woes — twitter and ALL social networks become unusable when you follow 10's of thousands of users.

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    Never did see the benefits of using auto-follow tools. Kinda defeats the whole object of getting to know people and comes across as a numbers gatherer instead.

  • http://twitter.com/SplinteredMind Doug!as Cootey

    You shouldn't have to apologize, Chris. This is a problem with Twitter. We knew it was too good to last. The power of Twitter was that someone like me could chat up someone like you. We don't move in the same circles. We don't often talk about the same things, but every once in a while Twitter let us meet. It was the power of social networking unlike I've ever seen implemented anywhere else. But this power lets others abuse it.

    I believe that Twitter should either disable DMs from 3rd parties, or create a white list of allowed apps so that troublemakers can't make trouble. Why should powerusers or regular folk such as myself have to prune spam out of their DM inbox?

  • matthewbibby

    Hi Chris, I also don't use auto-follow apps for the very same reason! I woke up one morning to 26 absolute B.S. DMs and decided things had to change . . .

    I documented the process I went through to Opt Out of receiving Auto DMs here:




  • http://www.charlesneville.com/ charlesneville

    What's needed is a smart auto-follow tool (and auto-block too, to cleanse your follower list). Something configurable – unfollow/block people who use certain terms (MLMers, twitter system types) in their tweets or bio, autofollow people that you have already @ messaged at least twice, auto-follow new followers based on certain criteria: must have a profile pic, must have a relatively balanced following, must have tweeted certain keywords that you set. Any new followers that don't meet those criteria could be managed in a simple interface to allow you to preview multiple users at once follow back with a single click and no page reloads.

  • http://www.andreavascellari.com/ Andrea Vascellari

    Although in smaller scale I had spam problems too so wrote a Twitter Policy. Result: spam almost down to zero + improved conversation quality (public and private).

    Hope it can help:


  • http://socialmediafish.com rogermbyrne

    Hey Guys I never did use auto follow but one thing I found useful (no affiliation and it was free when I started using it) is twollow.com it at least gives a follow to people who @ you or RT you even if you haven't had a chance to check out their profiles yet.

    How? Just use one keyword to search for and auto follow on, your username!

    You're still gonna get some bots in there but I think the ratio of spammers that will get followed opposed to auto following everyone will be greatly reduced…

  • http://twitter.com/pigpog_s Sam Randall

    Oh my, it's just like Facebook. How is this 'empowering'? Grr.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    That's one way to think of it. The other is this:

    # of people who follow me every day – 500+
    If I took 1 minute to check each of them out = 8.34 hours.
    % chance of seeming like a jerk when I don't follow you back: 75

    So, yeah.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    I would support them if they didn't empower DMs. That's the ONLY thing that pisses me off, Travis.

    They're pushing me into a game I don't want to play. If everyone's doing their little fun thing, whatever, that's cool. But if I'm over in another area not interested, it's impolite to empower their users to direct message me and push the game on me.

    Games are cool. Games where you push the others in your community into the game? Not as cool. Think of the real world analog of this, like at a park.

  • http://twitter.com/jgrubbs Jonathan Grubbs

    I've never used auto-follow back. twitter should be about making real connections with your various “tribes” not about seeing who can have the most followers or follow the most people. I never use auto DM either! If someone follows me, I check out their profile, and read their tweets. If I don't know them or they don't tweet anything I care about reading, then I don't follow back.

  • http://codingrelic.geekhold.com DGentry

    I've noticed the tweet bots now republish a hefty number of tweets from other random accounts, only interspersing a small number of spam links (see http://jetsam.geekhold.com/tweetbots-getting-sm… for an example). Their camouflage has improved noticeably in the last month or so.

  • http://JoselinMane.com JoselinMane

    Yeah when systems/automation take the Social out of the Media it's bad for everyone. I haven't of fun140.com but now my first impression is that they indirectly promote spamming tactics.

    Auto-Follow was effective when just people were on twitter. And before the twitter celebrity boom, some internet marketers, mlmers, etc Auto-DM was acceptable if your follower rate was growing rapidly.

    We are all experiencing a Twitter growing pain, a social media stretch mark if you will.

    So like a muscle, in order for twitter to grow, as I am sure @Biz, @ev and the rest of the twitter team intend, it must break a few times.

    The best we can do is not only discuss this via blogs and twitter but more importantly take action and let the twitter team know via http://getsatisfaction.com/twitter.

    In your opinion Chris, what would be the ideal solution that Twitter needs to implement/change to prevent from happening and/or Is it a Twitter issue?

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Smart move. I've always likened twitter to a large social with lots of conversations – you can drift at will to any number of them.

    But having someone else do that for you, automatically … well, that just doesn't work (or at least, it kills my metaphor).

  • http://lewister.blogspot.com Susan Villas Lewis

    After more than a year on Twitter, I still don't get the mentality that anyone's a jerk for not following back. Even if I love you as a person in real life, that doesn't mean I'm interested in what you're choosing to talk about on Twitter. So how does that make me a jerk for not following you back? How does this not fall under the Quid Pro No you talked about a few weeks ago? No reason that shouldn't apply to your Twitter account as well.

  • Stajo

    Because of this autofollow-spammy DMs sequence i don't read my DMs at all, but there can be really cool stuff:(

  • http://djpappas.org David Pappas

    Agreed – but not for the same reason. Following spam and porn sites and every other interest group that doesn't reflect my interests results in people who actually know me wondering if they actually know me. Whether we like it or not, who we follow says something about who we are.

  • http://www.labeshops.com Lori Anne Brown

    I did the same thing a few weeks ago as I was noticing too many spammers as well. So I'm more selective about who I follow now, though it takes more time.

    I do scan my DMs now and then, but probably 1-2 times a week rather than daily like I do with my stream.

  • http://www.jeffreysass.com sass

    Hi Chris,

    For what it's worth, I think http://www.socialtoo.com has tools to let you auto follow folks and at the same time EXCLUDE following back folks who auto DM. There may be small fees for some of these services, but if it does the trick it may be worth it. I have been checking it out and have paid for some of their services. Right now I am experimenting and blocking auto DM'ers that have been marked as spammers by others, and it has been noticably better. I haven't fully blocked all auto-dms yet, but may if it gets out of hand again.

    Good luck either way! (I was going to DM this to you… but… ) ;-)


  • http://twitter.com/relth Jonena Relth

    Chris, BRAVO! I concur totally. Auto-follows are a pain in the neck and add NO value to Twitter

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    I agree with Susan, that's other people's fault, not yours, and I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. People will think other people are jerks regardless – let them. You know the value you offer – if you're happy with that, then that's all that matters. Anyone that gets pissy, you probably didn't want to connect anyway.

    Have you tried Topify for your email alerts? Gives you a pretty nifty rundown of profile, last few tweets, engagement levels, etc – makes life a heckuva lot easier.

    Here's a pre-approved invite if you want to check it out:


    (Not affiliate link – it's a free service. They're simply keeping it limited invites at the minute).

  • http://twitter.com/wendysoucie Wendy Soucie

    In support of no autofollow.Yup, lots of work involved. At the end of the week sometimes I just have to hit delete.the sky has not fallen.

  • http://www.maxoz.com.au maxOz

    Hello Chris,

    I have posted my request to follow on Twitter, (and LinkedIn)

    Many thanks


    Michele Smorgon (@maxOz)

  • NeuronOutlaw

    I want to throw this in the mix. I use a tool called TweetAdder. As far as I can tell, this tool does not do autofollows unless you tell it to do so. I do not like automated ddirect messages and I don't like any app or software that uses my name to spam people on Twitter or anywhere else.

    I am an affiliate for tweetadder. You can go to my blog and get to them and I will make a couple of bucks. I am not doing this for that reason. You can simply go to http://tweetadder.com and check them out. I like them because the tool provided helps me look for the right Twitter followers, those that might be interested in what I have to write. And it can be automated.

    Well worth a visit.

  • http://twitter.com/AlliWorthington Alli Worthington

    I have started saying, “If you are a human @ me and say hello.” It is the only way to keep up!

  • http://www.copyblogger.com/ Brian Clark

    You calling me a jerk? =)

  • http://greenlasagna.com/ Deborah

    I can't even keep up with Follow Friday people, much less spammers! I'm about 300 followers behind on my vetting, hoping by the time I get around to them, most will be banned and removed. I actually quit following you because I was getting YOUR spammers! LOL Still have the feed on the blog, though.

  • http://www.linnetwoods.com linnetwoods

    It really is a pain, isn't it? I'm having exactly the same problem and have been manually following since I first joined Twitter but am having to block so many spammers now that there isn't time to follow back genuine people some days and I keep getting behind with sorting through new followers. Shame.

    Today I was unfollowed by someone to whom I had sent a polite refusal to get involved with the 'fun' offered in her DM. From the tone of the DM she sent just before unfollowing me, she clearly hadn't even been aware that her account had sent me a 'fun' DM in the first place, so it is bad for both sides of the equation.

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  • http://twittspace.com TweetNirvana

    I really like your blog! Nice and simple!

  • http://twittspace.com TweetNirvana

    I really like your blog! Nice and simple!

  • http://www.purplecar.net/ PurpleCar

    Thanks, Chris! I made the same decision a few months ago. It's a shame. But it is easier to click on every name in my @ replies (mentions) list to make sure I'm following back than it is to sort through all of the spam/spammers. Good luck. -PC

  • MichelleMacPhearson

    I just don't understand how Twitter is to blame for one's decision to follow anyone who follow you willy nilly? It's a user's responsibility to maintain their circle of “friends” however you choose to define that – if you let folks into your circle with whom you don't actually have a relationship or similar interests, it's not Twitter's fault (of MySpace's, or Facebooks, etc.)

    Just because *you* don't care for something doesn't make it spam – clearly lots of folks do enjoy these games.

    Also, why are you afraid of peoples reactions and thinking you're a “snob”? It's your job to teach people how to use social media effectively, and as you've found out, auto-follow is not effective. Consider it a teaching opportunity.

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