With both legitimate marketers and spammers setting their sights on Twitter, it is only a matter of time before spam becomes a major problem.
Anyone at all can send you an “at” message, and unfollowing someone is a very final solution. What if you like 90% of what someone tweets but they throw in a few ads or sponsored tweets every now and then? Do you throw out the baby with the bath water?
There is a better way, at least for some desktop client users: filtering. With filters, you can block words or phrases; for example, a popular hashtag is #ad. Users should be commended for using that hashtag because it makes it easier for us to filter out their ads! I’ll show you how filtering works on two desktop Twitter clients. Unfortunately, this is not an option for the Twitter website or for tools like Power Twitter. I was very surprised, in researching for this article, to find that most clients don't support filtering yet. Tweetdeck has supported it for so long that I foolishly assumed that other clients had followed suit by now. If you don’t use a client that supports filtering, you’re out of luck. Why not consider one of these tools?
Adobe AIR-based, works on any system that supports AIR. Also available for iPhone.
I’ll start with Mixero because it’s what I’m using at the moment, and I’d like to give them a little press – they’re woefully underrated. Filtering works two ways. You may choose to see only a keyword or phrase, or you may choose to see everything but a keyword or phrase. We use the “-” operator to distinguish between the two.
Also Adobe AIR-based, and there's an iPhone version of it, too. The quality of the filtering function leaves a lot to be desired, though.
I've used Tweetdeck on and off for quite a while; it's the first client that had groups that I became aware of, and groups quickly became my benchmark for all Twitter clients. I don't even try out clients that don't support them. The major problems with filtering in Tweetdeck are that you can't filter for more than one phrase and the filters aren't persistent. When you log out of Tweetdeck, you lose your filter and have to set it up again when you relaunch.
If you're aware of a Twitter desktop client that supports filtering, I'd love to hear about it! Filtering is presently the only option we have for effectively fighting spam on Twitter. I hope I'll be able to update this article in a few months with a slew of clients that support it!