Data Scientist/Musician/Participant in the General Confusion @trutherbotprop
Resist autocracy and research/fight disinformation. I serve the realm.
2 added to My Authors
Oct 9, 2018 • 9 tweets • 4 min read
Honey Pot Bots
Meet @ShawneeDeaver. This account's first tweet - and only non-reply tweet - is 2scEY0T, an apparently random 7-character alphanumeric code. The rest of the tweets are replies sent within hours of its creation; the collage is representative. (Thanks @OlgaNYC1211 for the lead).
Oct 8, 2018 • 13 tweets • 7 min read
Let's take an updated look at the traffic related to Russia Insider, a Russian news site featuring sections such as "Western Collapse", "The Jewish Question", "Free Assange", "Russiahoax", and "EU Conservative Uprising".
(previous Russia Insider thread in which failed Congressional Candidate Paul Nehlen featured prominently)
While looking for streams of the Kavanaugh confirmation cloture vote yesterday, we stumbled on @Seekandfind, an account that linked Russia Today's stream. Spoiler alert - this account is (at least presently) a bot with signs of some human interjections.
This account is extremely high-volume (900+ tweets per day at present) and uses a massive cornucopia of different automation tools to tweet (mostly Microsoft PowerApps, Buffer, Integromat, IFTTT, and Zapier).
Oct 5, 2018 • 12 tweets • 8 min read
On October 2nd, the news came out that envelopes containing suspected ricin had been mailed to the Pentagon and the White House. We downloaded tweets containing the word "ricin" a few hours after the news broke, resulting in 45007 tweets from 29308 accounts.
Here's the retweet network for "ricin" on 2018-10-02. It consists almost entirely of right wing accounts, most of which are speculating that the ricin mailing was left-wing terrorism.
Oct 4, 2018 • 13 tweets • 7 min read
Yesterday (2018-10-02), four members of the white supremacist group known as the "Rise Above Movement" were arrested by the feds for their part in the violence at the #UniteTheRight rally in Charlottesville in August 2018. Let's take a look at related Twitter traffic.
(previous thread on the Twitter activity surrounding the #UniteTheRight hashtag leading up to and during the rally last year.)
How does one go about detecting Twitter bots (automated accounts)? Let's take a look at three different tests for detecting signs of automation, and try them on three different sample sets of accounts.
The first two tests may be familiar from previous threads:
1. 24/7 tweet activity - this could point to multiple human operators, but is usually the result of automation/tweet scheduling. 2. Use of automation services such as IFTTT or custom apps built with the Twitter API.
Sep 29, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
A narrative that's been floating around on the right regarding the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh is that the standard of "innocent until proven guilty" implies that the allegations in question should not stop (or even delay) his confirmation.
We downloaded tweets containing "innocent until proven guilty", resulting in 204254 tweets from 111792 accounts over the last 10 days. Can we statistically determine if innocent until proven guilty is a standard these users consistently adhere to outside of a court of law?
Sep 28, 2018 • 10 tweets • 6 min read
From time to time one encounters the erroneous rumor that Twitter bots can't reply. Let's take a look at a prolific counterexample. Meet @Guds_barn ("God's children" in Swedish).
Here's @Guds_barn's tweet schedule. This account is quite high-volume - it's likely that the only reason it doesn't always run 24/7 is that it reaches the daily limit of 2400 tweets in fewer than 24 hours.
Sep 25, 2018 • 6 tweets • 4 min read
A couple weeks ago, I started getting tagged in very similar-looking tweets by a couple of accounts with which I've never interacted - @hardikmakadia and @mitulmakadia. Let's take a quick look.
Both of these accounts are automated via Statusbrew and on pretty similar schedules. Their primary purpose seems to be to promote a pair of websites: marutitech(dot)com and wotnot(dot)io.
Sep 24, 2018 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
We did a quick comparison of two datasets: tweets containing #SethRich/"Seth Rich" and tweets related to the special counsel investigation (tweets containing "special counsel", "Trump", and either "Putin" or "Russia". Let's dig in. . .
Here is the weekly tweet volume for #SethRich/"Seth Rich", colored by account age and labeled with the dates of several notable events. It's very spiky - and note that several of the spikes correlate with key moments in the Mueller investigation.
Sep 22, 2018 • 8 tweets • 6 min read
In the aftermath of Alex Jones' ban from PayPal, the #DumpPayPal hashtag has materialized in protest. We downloaded tweets containing this hashtag this morning, resulting in 1063 tweets from 512 accounts.
Not many of the #DumpPayPal accounts (only 9 of 512) appear to be bots based on 24/7 activity/use of automation services. There are, however, 35 accounts with default pics (7%) and 86 (17%) with < 100 followers, some of which are likely sockpuppets (examples shown).
Over the last two days, this tweet in support of Ted Cruz has been tweeted 9635 times by 9014 accounts. Let's take a look.
Very few of the accounts look like bots based on 24 hour activity/use of automation services (and there's a helpful button to make the tweet easy for humans to copy). There's a big caveat though - many of the accounts have too few tweets to perform this test.
Sep 9, 2018 • 9 tweets • 5 min read
On August 30th, an archive of communication between former US President Bill Clinton and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin was declassified by the White House. We downloaded tweets containing 'Clinton' and 'Yeltsin', resulting in 7200 tweets from 5588 accounts.
Among the themes that pop up in these tweets is the notion that former President Clinton "colluded" to help Yeltsin win, with the implication that any collusion with a foreign power on the part of Trump isn't so bad.
Sep 6, 2018 • 8 tweets • 7 min read
This tweet from @shocker_daily was cloned by ten other accounts shortly after being posted. Some kind of automation is the obvious explanation, and the "RT shocker_daily" instead of actual retweets is a telltale sign of IFTTT (TY @MikeH_PR for the lead).
The @shocker_daily account was created recently (7/27/2018) and is almost exclusively focused on posting dubious claims about the #Skripal#Novichok poisoning. It has an associated "news" site (dailyshocker(dot)news), registered the same day with similar content.
Sep 5, 2018 • 4 tweets • 3 min read
If you've been reading the analysis threads @ZellaQuixote and I post, you've probably seen the tweet schedule plots we include. Here's a simple web application you can use to make those plots yourself for accounts of your own choosing. makeadverbsgreatagain.org/allegedly/
The plots include 6-7 weeks of history ending with the most recent tweet, limited to the most recent 3200 tweets. If 3200 tweets don't go back the full 6-7 weeks, part of the plot will be blank. The circles are color-coded based on the app used to post the tweets.
Sep 5, 2018 • 10 tweets • 6 min read
On September 1, 2018, one or more explosions occurred at Mezzeh airbase in Damascus. There are competing stories as to the cause. We downloaded tweets containing "Mezzeh", resulting in 4764 tweets from 3588 accounts, 246 of which (6.9%) were flagged as likely to be automated.
(Criteria for automation test explained here)
When testing accounts for automation, a metric @ZellaQuixote and I have been using is whether the accounts A) post 24/7 and/or B) post 90% or more of their tweets via automation apps/services. We decided to apply this test to our own followers.
Of 32045 accounts that follow one or both of us, 232 tested positive for automation per this test. This chart shows the 25 most common apps/services used to post the tweets. IFTTT and Buffer are the most prominent.
There are at least 645 accounts in the set. All of them follow the same naming scheme: [female name] + [2 digit number] + [letter] + [2 digit number] + [letter]. The vast majority of the profile pics are female, presumably stolen from elsewhere on the Internet.