The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’

Posted on | September 14, 2013 | 67 Comments

Excuse me for belaboring the obvious, but I’ve gotten pretty damned fed up with certain “friends” making excuses for Twitter’s inability to stop this influx of spambot accounts. So say hello to Patsy Moen (@MsGiovanna__Sto), Zakary Greenfelder (@Chet_Senger_967), Kirsten Stiedemann (@Conroy_Evan7897), Myrna Schulist Sr. (@MissNia_Kulas__), Annamarie Eichmann (@MrsGerhold_Cory) and Laurie Lehner (@Block_Lia_1657):

Honestly, I’m trying to maintain a sense of humor about this:

The problem is that the ease with which these spammers have gamed the system — creating a simple algorithmic software program that auto-generates thousands upon thousands of these fake accounts — exposes gross negligence by Twitter personnel that degrades the quality of the network, and this is highly relevant now that Twitter is seeking to take their product to the public capital markets:

Last December, Twitter announced that it had more than 200 million active users — people who used the service at least once a month.
A few months later, CEO Dick Costolo told employees he expected to get to 400 million users by the end of 2013, according to people familiar with the company. . . .
One factor that may have thrown off Twitter’s growth targets from earlier this year has been spam. The company went through a significant campaign to get rid of bogus accounts earlier in the year, people familiar with the company said. That effort was successful enough that it ended up shrinking Twitter’s true user number.

Big headlines for the big news:

A Short Post, a Big Splash: #TwitterIPO
New York Times

Investors expect Fed to tap brakes
— Twitter going public —
Goldman scores top underwriting spot


Twitter Files for Initial Public Offering
Wall Street Journal

Yet the same week they announced their IPO, we discover Twitter can’t stop the cheesy spambot program that generates thousands of accounts like Dr. Miller Pacocha (@BoehmPierce_296), Miss Demetris Heaney (@DrMetz_Dewitt__), Jermaine O’Conner (@Nader_Zackary45), Blanche Tremblay (@MrsHauck_Gertru) and Mr. Greg Hudson (@Shanny_Batz6276):

Even as spam accounts flood onto Twitter, however, the accounts of actual human beings are suspended because of phony “abuse” claims:

Since 2011, at least, conservative activists have complained about “Twitter gulag,” the repeated suspension of accounts prompted by multiple bogus abuse reports from leftist thugs who systematically target their Republican-leaning antagonists. The fact that there is now a Twitter Gulag Defense Network (hashtag #tgdn) to warn users and assist conservative activists targeted for suspension, tells you all you need to know about the ineffectiveness of Twitter’s policies.

How many $100-an-hour programmers does Twitter have on its payroll? How many hours would it take for such a programmer to identify the source of these spambot accounts? And how many more hours would it take to write a code that blocks the spammers?

OK, so once Twitter’s programmers identified the source and blocked the program, how long would it take for a $150-an-hour attorney to write up a criminal complaint against the spammers, documenting the fraud, and to deliver that complaint to the FBI? See, this isn’t just a “terms of service” violation, this is deliberate systematic electronic fraud — a federal felony under various statutes — and until the perpetrators are indicted and prosecuted for their crimes, there is no real incentive to discourage anyone else from doing the same thing.

Twitter needs to get serious about this problem, and my “friends” need to stop telling me that this isn’t a serious problem, because I’m well past the point of tolerating such bullshit advice.







67 Responses to “‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’”

  1. richard_mcenroe
    September 14th, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    Aere lefty Twitterbots threatening Twitter’s IPO prospects? #TGDN #tcot #tlot @IBDinvestors @FoxBusiness @CNBC

  2. Professor_Why
    September 14th, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’

  3. IloiloKano
    September 14th, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    Hmm. Twitter @Support changed their bio ~> “We’re unable to assist with account suspension/verification.” @rsmccain

  4. IloiloKano
    September 14th, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

    ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’ via @rsmccain

  5. rsmccain
    September 14th, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    RT @IloiloKano: ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’ via @rsmccain

  6. AF632
    September 14th, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    RT @IloiloKano: ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’ via @rsmccain

  7. AmPowerBlog
    September 14th, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    Jeez, Zakary Greenfelder has big breasts, lol! @RSMcCain #Twitter #Spam

  8. DaveO
    September 14th, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

    Almost rhetorical question: is RSM responsible if the women pictured in the twitter avatars turn out to be underage girls?

  9. Alessandra
    September 14th, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

    I hope a solution is found!

    In the meantime, I really liked this one:
    There is no sincerer love than the love of food! LOL

  10. #Spambot Wars: Fake @Twitter Accounts With (Coincidentally) Large Breasts : The Other McCain
    September 14th, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

    […] females. It’s just that when I wanted to illustrate the point — i.e., that the same few hundred avatar photos are being re-used over and over in these spambots generated by an algorithmic software program — certain examples struck me […]

  11. Darth Chocolate
    September 14th, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    Just wondering whether it is possible to have class action lawsuit against Twitter for breach of contract for the way they choose to selectively enforce their TOS.

    I mean, they will suspend real users who play by the rules and encourage fake followers if they are harassing real users. Seems somewhat inconsistent and they are violating their own TOS.

    Any lawyers care to weigh in? At least it would be good publicity with the impending IPO, IYKWIMAITYD.

  12. TomKattman
    September 14th, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

    Hi, @twitter @support : @rsmccain piece points out growing #spambot prob U shd have system looking 4 such patterns

  13. terresamonroe
    September 15th, 2013 @ 9:06 am

    ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’

  14. thatMrGguy
    September 15th, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’

  15. Bob Belvedere
    September 15th, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

    Me likey.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    September 15th, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

    Damn well put, Richard!

  17. Bob Belvedere
    September 15th, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    Chances are, Twitter had it’s lawyers write the Terms Of Service so they have no liability at all.