Saturday, May 14, 2011


It didn't take me long to figure out that some people on Twitter aren't there to tweet so much as to collect followers. Getting their 1000th follower is more important than posting their 1000th tweet. So, I normally don't do the mutual follow-back thing on Twitter; follow me and I'll follow you. I changed this policy, however, when I set up the account for our local NRA Members' Council. I figured that the point there is to get pro-RKBA news to as many eyeballs as possible; even if those eyes only have eyes for the count of their followers. However, I just made an exception to that.

I had a follower who had no eyes.

I had this one follower show up to both accounts. On my BrewingAle account, I just didn't bother with the mutual follow back. I looked at this "person's" recent tweets and there was nothing interesting there. If they want to keep following me, fine. I'll pass on the clutter, though.

For the MC account, on the other hand, I did the follow back. At first I just ignored the tweets; silly, vacuous stuff that looked as though this person didn't understand how to reply to a tweet. Then I notice that the tweets fell into two categories: Tweets that referred to women's clothing and accessories, and tweets that looked like collections of random words strung together into somewhat grammatically correct sentences. It was that second group that tipped me off.

This is a robot!

The sentences followed a pattern: A proper name as the subject, not a Twitter handle; A verb, usually come conjugation of the verb "tweet"; and an adverb. Then I noticed another pattern: This person never sleeps. The tweets were showing at all day long, several every hour, 24/7. Also, the clothing related tweets looked like auto-generated responses to other tweets that mentioned these products. I'm guess that a search engine touched these off.

So what's the point of this 'bot? I suspect that it was a proof of concept program. The random sentences are just to collect followers while the product tweets were the payload. In this case, the writer was tweeting about other people's merchandise, but the final release would probably push his own wares.

Well, at least this spammer isn't stealing bandwidth or processor time on an infected machine.