The Twitter Bots are taking over the Asylum

It started innocuously enough, a simple tweet complaining about YouTube ads:

Note the Favs the tweet received. Now and then, if you use the right keyword, at the right time, you’ll trigger some spambots to interact with your tweet. Nothing unusual here, but nonetheless, this dull tweet received 5 faves and netted me 5 “followers”. But I was bored, so I posted another two tweets making fun of the bots:

This led to the exact same result, but from different accounts. Another 5 faves and 5 more bot followers. Per tweet. Admittedly, I was deliberately using the “YouTube” keyword I thought was triggering them, for my own amusement and to see how far I could push it.

And then it got weird…

Every tweet I was posting, no matter the subject was getting faved by 5 new bots, some of the previous bots, and I was then getting followed by the new bots. For a while, even replies to others were getting the same treatment (which most people commented on, leading to a little embarrassment and an apology). Thankfully the spam on my @replies seems to have slowed down since.

Twitter Bots
This is just a small snippet

I wish I had a nice way to tie this all together with some deep insight and meaning, but I just don’t. It’s a weird, strange, annoying thing. Normally, in my experience, Twitter bots are “hit and run” – they interact with your tweet in some way, or follow you, to tempt you into at least checking their profile out. They’re annoying as hell but easy to spot and ignore. The dynamic alters slightly when it is every tweet you write getting their attention. I can go through and report for spam, block, and all that jazz, but right now it’s up to over 60 accounts – and growing with almost every tweet – which puts it in the unsustainable category. I can probably put up with it by tuning my notifications in Tweetbot, but I’m reluctant to risk subjecting anyone I reply to the spam. I might have to go back to just talking to myself!

I guess all that’s left is to look on the funny side…