As much as I love Twitter, I have to admit that it is a bit like a haven for spam - and has been for years, probably even more than the other main social networks. Twitter, in an attempt to keep spam in check, have recently decided to end Auto Follow, whereby Twitter users would be able to automatically follow back each of their new followers.
Auto Follow has been common practice for many users over the years, and was even a Twitter feature up until 2009. Several Twitter tools, such asSocialOomph, have had to revise their features following the decision made by Twitter.
Even if you've used Twitter for just one day, you probably noticed the amount of people that have in their descriptions "I will follow back anyone!" and the tweets and direct messages with the #teamfollowback hashtag. Automatic following back and buying followers have been such common occurrences on Twitter that I personally can't even be bothered with reporting these types of users as spam.
It's no secret that the more followers you have, the better your profile looks - this is how you get validated on Twitter. When you have thousands of followers your profile will look like the real deal and people will trust it. However, it can be very hard to gather so many followers, at least not without months and even years of hard work. It's difficult even for the big brands - onsocial media everyone has to make an effort to attract fans or followers, although clearly big brands have a huge starting advantage over smaller businesses.
Because the number of followers is so important on Twitter, people would do almost anything to raise their numbers as quickly as possible, and that's why fake followers, buying followers and auto-follow flourished.
Automatic following has its good parts and its bad parts. The good part is that following back can be quite the tedious job and auto follow made the job much easier, and there are reasons why one would want to follow back the people that follow them. Some businesses in particular would make valid use of this feature, if they wanted to be able to direct message all their followers. Since you can't send direct messages on Twitter unless both parties are following each other, this feature helped save lots of time. But at the same time, auto follow makes it almost impossible to tell how many of an accounts' followers are "real" and genuinely interested in their tweets.
Businesses who want to grow their follower numbers are probably very disappointed in this news, but I think this ban might have some advantages. Those who only want to have lots of followers and believe that is the equivalent to being successful on Twitter will be definitely saddened by the news. But I personally believe that on Twitter, as on all other social networks, it's not the numbers that reflect your success, but rather how interested and engaged people are in you and your tweets. I've never understood why I would want to have thousands of followers that aren't even remotely interested in me and that never engage with me or bring back traffic to my website. And generally, people who auto follow will probably be following so many people at the same time that they couldn't possibly be able to go through their feed regularly and interact with those who they follow. I also hope
However, at the same time, people will keep following back, even without the help of different tools. The only effect this ban will have on them is they will be more disgruntled at Twitter for the tedious work.
There definitely are points to be made for both those who are for the auto follow ban and those who are against it.