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Matt Cutts

Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Cheaters: Please Follow Some Ethics [Twitter Rules]

Do you tweet? And do you follow-back all your followers? If so please save yourself from "Social Cheaters".

The History:

At early times, when search engines' ranking algorithm was powered only by back-links, people used to add reciprocal links to pass PageRank (PR) and to improve their rankings. But very few of them keep a track of their back-links and most of them will remove the reciprocal links just before the Google PageRank Dance to boost their search engine rankings and PR.

The Present:

Similar to Google PageRank for a webpage your Twitter profile has an influencer score, and to increase the score "Social Cheaters" follow the same old method. This is what they do:

  • First they will select the list of twitter accounts to follow.

  • Then they will follow each and every twitter account.

  • As soon as they 'click' follow, the twitter account holder will get an email alert saying "You got a new follower".

  • But even before the 'new follower' email alert reaches inbox, the 'Social Cheaters' will Un-follow them.

  • Most of them will follow back even without checking the followers current follow status.

By doing this I have seen most of have gained a good profile score.


I recently got a new follower alert from @buzzwave a twitter account from and they have followed the same trick to gain more followers.

As you can see the ratio between following and the followers is way too high. How do they attain this?
I got their follow request by 8:40 PM and I checked their twitter account by 8:50 PM, but by that time my account was un-followed.

Most of them won't check for the current status of the new followers they will simply follow back. And this is how they could easily increase their followers. A best example of poor social media ethics!

How to Prevent?

  • Before you decide to follow-back any new follower, please check for their current status. To verify the current status please check for the message button. If the message button is visible then they still follow you, if not they have un-followed you.

    Following: Following

    Not Following: Not Following

  • So what happens if they un-follow after you follow them back? Use tools like to check your followers' status and un-follow the "Social Cheaters".


It is not necessary that all un-followers are "Social Cheaters". Sometimes if your twitter timeline is spammy you will lose your followers. ;-)

Tips to keep-up your followers:

  1. Do not overload your twitter timeline even if you are posting relevant news items.

  2. Do not send spam links to your followers.

  3. Do not send DMs very frequently.

Tips: when you consider following someone:

  1. Follow only if their timeline interests you.

  2. Don't follow just for a follow-back.

  3. Do not un-follow immediately to increase your profile score.

Tips to maintain your twitter account:

  1. Check your followers' status and un-follow the "Social Cheaters". I use to manage my list.

  2. If possible stick to specific topic while discussing on your timeline.

  3. Give credits to the original twitters, always use RT or VIA or use the default Retweet.

So what are you waiting for, start scanning your account and eliminate the cheaters.

Happy tweeting!

PS: I use to check my profile score.

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