Twitterbots

I believe I may have experienced my first Twitterbot (aka Twitter Bot). To be more specific, the kind of Twitterbot that mass-follows people, gains a follow-back, and then removes their original follow in order to have more ‘Followers’ than ‘Following’ : a Follow Twitterbot.

Twitterbots are not a bad thing for companies or individuals that have 5,000+ followers or that don’t have a lot of time to be on social media. In those instances, having a bot that can ‘like’ posts or comments, follow-back other users, or maybe retweet posts is very helpful. Unfortunately, like most technologies, Twitterbots can be used for purposes beyond their original creation intent.

I would not have noticed that this particular follower was a bot, except that they sent me a private message, and the phrasing and lack of punctuation in the message appeared disjointed.

Twitterbot Private Message
Twitterbot PM

I have received auto-replies when I have followed someone before, but those replies came from people who usually introduced themselves and provided a link to their site for more information or some kind of free service. Those kinds of messages are from bots also, but they serve a purpose.

This one though, it made me suspicious that the account was a Follow Twitterbot. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that I am.

I went to this suspected bot’s profile page and found the following:

Non-Bot Behavior

Bot Behavior

  • Have a Profile Picture
  • Have a Post
  • Have Replies or Interactions
  • No Banner Picture
  • Recently Created Account
  • Account has No Last Name
  • @username includes a Series of Numbers
  • No Profile Description
  • No Link (Website, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Following 1,000+
  • Less than 100 Followers

To test my theory, I posted a comment on their only post (a picture of a man in uniform that said “i love my job”) and asked questions.

Twitterbot Inquiry
Twitterbot Inquiry

If there is a response, and it includes specific information – such as where this person works, what they do, etc. – then I will admit to being wrong and offer some links to this person for how to set up your Twitter in order to avoid future accusations.

If there is not a response, then I’m glad I didn’t decide to keep following them.

In these online communities, there are constant discussions on whether or not it is better to have many followers or to have a few good followers. Do we want to look impressive and have over 1,000 followers even if they are accounts that don’t actually exist? Or do we want a few hundred followers that are influential? In the end, we cannot really control their initial actions, but we are able to block them from following us if we so choose.

Friendly Reminder: Look At Who You Follow Back

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