… is better than a band of loyal followers — if you want to get noticed on Twitter. It looks like someone has built an army of fake Twitter accounts which can re-tweet on command.
Bruce Wagner, a New York City talk-show host and Twitter user, took time out to leave an erudite comment on my previous blog post about TweeterGetter. Now it is not unexpected that he might have a band of loyal followers. It is also not unexpected that they might be prompted to re-tweet Bruce’s tweet at the same time or within the same minute as far as anyone can tell.
Here’s a sequence of eight of the re-tweets. There are plenty more.
A few minutes later, they all re-tweeted again and within the same minute. That wasn’t too surprising. However what was really surprising was the fact that they all re-tweeted in exactly the same sequence.
This prompted me to inspect the profiles of Bruce’s loyal followers / army of re-tweet-bots. It appears to me that their sole role in life is to reproduce tweets from some news source and RT @brucewagner.
I’ll step over @latinnyc, whose Twitter background is NSFW. Here’s @staceylwilliams who doesn’t seem to do anything other than repost from WeSmirch as well as re-tweeting @brucewagner
And here’s @Margait who reposts from Techmeme as well as re-tweeting @brucewagner
I thought this was brilliant! Slimy, immoral and damaging to Twitter, but brilliant.
Nine hours before posting this, I sent the following e-mail to Bruce.
From: Mike Fitzsimon [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, 14 February 2009 23:26
Subject: Do you have an army of retweet-bots?
Your tweet to me earlier today was clearly very popular with your followers. A large number of them re-tweeted it within the same minute.
The same followers later re-tweeted another of your tweets. Again, all within the same minute and interestingly, in exactly the same sequence.
It wasn’t hard to find other examples of this behaviour in the previous few hours.
Inspection of the profiles of your loyal followers would indicate that their sole role in life is to reproduce tweets from a news source and RT @brucewagner.
This is brilliant! Well done.
I just wanted to check with you whether my information is correct before I blog this in about 8 hours time.
19 Foliage Court, Shailer Park Qld Australia 4128
t: +61 7 3801 2369 f: +61 7 3388 0296 m: +61 418 275 275
MikeFitz@Fitzsimon.com.au www.Fitzsimon.com.au http://mike.brisgeek.com
About 5 hours before this post, I engaged with Bruce on Twitter, reminding him to check his e-mail. There was no response to the e-mail. Instead, Bruce once again appears to have demonstrated the effectiveness of his Retweet-bot army of fake Twitter accounts…
Bruce, you are clearly a very engaging person. I can love you but I cannot love what it looks like you are doing to Twitter.
Update: Soon after Bruce’s comment below, it was time to DM @Spam with a link to this post. I had seen other attempts to notify @Spam about this account but I think the evidence presented above was what Twitter needed before taking action. The retweet-bot army and its general were gone within the hour. Thanks Twitter.