How to Avoid Twitter Worms And Still Follow New People
If you are on Twitter at all, you know they had their first XSS hack this week: the Stalker Daily worm. Well, the threat continues, according to Read, Write, Web as new and different worm mutations are occurring. This happens with anything that gets popular – just like in real life there is always some jerk who wants to spoil the fun for everyone. Never fear, there are ways around this problem.
In fact, the ways around this problem may get us away from the recent influx of scammers and spammers and marketers on Twitter and back to the days of real conversation, reinforcing the trust network we all know and love. How so? By forcing us to really interact again, instead of auto following or knee jerk accepting people.
The worms seem to only propagate if you visit a profile that has them. This means staying off the web site for a short while so Twitter can fix the issue and using a Twitter desktop or Twitter mobile client to view your Twitter stream instead. I am a long-time user of TweetDeck. Triston prefers Twhirl. I use PocketTwit by Google Labs on my Windows Mobile phone, he uses Twitterberry on his Blackberry and Tweetie on his iPod Touch (also for iPhones). Many friends are now trying Nambu for Mac, some people like Spaz. Whatever your preference – pick a client, and use that to surf Twitter this week instead of visiting the web site.
That addresses the issue of not picking up the worm(s), but how does it help foster conversation and bring the Twitter we know and love back? Simple! In order to follow new people, you want to see their profile. In order to see a profile when using a client, you need something to click to get there. If someone follows you (or if you follow someone new) send them an @reply to say hello. Introduce yourself after a follow. Then we can click your handle in our client, see your profile and decide if we want to converse, or if we want to wait and see.
By doing this we can foster real conversations again on Twitter. It will be hard for spammers to fake us out with a bunch of ads and bad marketing and Magpie type links if they have to say hello to us to earn our follow back, don’t you think? I say we use these worms as a chance to take Twitter back to its original genuine level. Are you with me?
Update: I am not entirely sure I agree with Ungraven Image‘s outlook on how the worm could affect other accounts, and as I mentioned in comments, I definitely don’t like NoScript’s blocking all scripts from forms to ads as well as viruses and worms, but it’s worth checking out the post for more ideas on protecting yourself.