Twitter bots that are robots, designed to interact with real humans; contain an extensive history. The API of Twitter is quite user-friendly; and easy to use. Also, there is very little or no protection against making new accounts randomly. However, it’s a great ease for programmers but now it has turned into more of a big problem.

The Expansion Of Twitter Bots Reached Beyond Normal Tactics:

These Twitter bots have diversified far beyond the conventional strategies. An older website vouched for developing a bot network to “get a database together of all your competitors.”

“Have a rebuttal promoting your brand over their brands as messages. Whenever someone in your niche talks about the competition, send a tweet or even A DM (Direct Message), with your message of being the better product/service, and to give you a try.”

Strange Patterns Of Following:

One recent example is of Joseph Cox, a Daily Beast reporter, who was kicked off of Twitter because of being followed too rapidly by an army of Twitter bots.

The reporter could not talk about the subject, and he spoke to Twitter on this issue off the record. But he experienced a strange pattern after writing his post. A flurry of Twitter bots started following him in the similar order other folks who had been posting stuff about the Russian bot were followed. In short, the bots “read” news stories and then followed their authors, one after the other, in
Once this happens, Twitter’s anti-bot tools spring into action and… ban the original poster.

“Let that sink in for a moment: A huge collection of botted accounts — the vast majority of which should be easily detectable as such — may be able to abuse Twitter’s anti-abuse tools to temporarily shutter the accounts of real people suspected of being bots!” wrote security researcher Brian Krebs. “The botnet or botnets appear to be targeting individuals who are exposing the extent to which sock puppet and bot accounts on social media platforms can be used to influence public opinion.”

When the Ordeal Started?

Subsequently, the misery kicked off when Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab was probing the accounts of pro-Kremlin; after what happened in Charlottesville and experienced a series of attacks by the same bot armies; that promptly circulated rumors and pro-Trump politics. Once he was done with writing about bots and menacing strategies; the hackers took no time in targeting the DFR for the action; causing tweets and follows from “tens of thousands of automated accounts […]; that was apparently meant as a show of force.”

More Attacks:

Moreover, the botnet essentially targeted a denial of service attack on the DFR’s twitter accounts; flooding the accounts with hundreds of fake retweets; and essentially making it useless if standard Twitter notification settings are used. As you can see, the retweets exploded for a few hours; and then slowed down. “Thus the massive retweeting did not spread to legitimate Twitter users. Instead, the main effect was to bombard the Twitter feeds of the accounts; mentioned in the post with an endless series of notifications,” wrote Ben Nimmo.

Cox wrote a story based on DFR’s research and quickly found himself a target of intimidation.

“It’s hilarious; that someone would even bother using bots on my account; but if bots were behind the temporary suspension; then Twitter may have some more issues around policing its platform;” said Cox when I asked him about his experience. His account is back online. However, thanks to Twitter’s policies; messages and memes are spreading in ways probably never envisioned by the folks; who made it easy to activate a Tweetbot.


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