Hashtag Spam: What to Do when Your Event Hashtag Gets Hijacked

While it was an awesome Social Media Breakfast this morning, one thing happened that wasn't so awesome. Our event hashtag became overrun by Twitter spammers.  Five  out of six tweets are spam!

Hashtags are extremely useful during events for people to follow along with the conversation and interact with each other. This is because, Twitter has set it up so that:

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords or phrases (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
  • Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
  • Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.
  • Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

It's the last piece of that puzzle however that makes it so attractive for spammers. These spammers are usually scantily clad women pointing you to some shortened URL that is probably of an unsavory site. When your hashtag gets hacked, the event feed become very frustrating for those at the event trying to follow along with the conversation. So, what are the proper steps to take if your event hashtag gets hijacked by twitter spammers? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Block and Report Spam: Although this may not take care of the problem immediately and it may feel like an endless battle taking up your time, it will at least get the ball rolling for making Twitter aware of the misuse and spam. Second, it will also make it so you can't see those particular tweets anymore, making it easier for you to see the valuable ones.
  2. Ask others at the event to also start blocking and reporting spam. The more reports on the person the more likely Twitter will shut their account down.
  3. File a report. You can click here to File a Report on Twitter.

Fortunately, for our Social Media Breakfast this morning the spammers lost interest after a lull in tweets due to a quick break between talks. Or possibly a tweet that was created letting them know we were in a Masonic Temple having a Social Media Breakfast about Social Media Policies presented by a lawyer… Or maybe it was because we all started blocking them and reporting them as spam. Either way, start fighting your Twitter Spam as soon as it happens and take back your hashtag feed!