The Other McCain

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

Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This?

Posted on | September 12, 2013 | 118 Comments

Apparently someone at Twitter paid attention and about 10,000 fake followers got scraped off my account, but there are still about 3,500 that need to be zapped. Twitter has got to do something to eliminate this problem. People kept telling me, “You should do this” or “You should do that,” and I was like, “Why should I have to do anything? How about Twitter does something to put a stop to this abusive behavior that is used to silence, intimidate or harass people?”

We don’t have to wonder why this happened, of course, but if it weren’t for services selling fake followers — a fraudulent and dishonest practice in itself — it wouldn’t be possible for someone to plunk down X dollars for X-number of fake accounts in what was apparently an attempt to get me sent to the “Twitter gulag” (see TGDN). And, honestly, it doesn’t take a genius to spot the fake accounts:

If I can figure out what a fake account looks like — all of these were among the thousands that somebody sicced on me — then the pattern should be obvious enough that somebody at Twitter can create a software program to detect and batch-delete these spam scams. And once they figure out who is creating these phony accounts, Twitter needs to take legal action to punish this kind of fraudulent abuse.

As I said in a phone conversation with a friend — and by “conversation,” I mean, me shouting at the top of my lungs — crime is a people problem. Just identify the people responsible for the problem, get rid of those people, and you get rid of the problem. There are some people so evil that they should never be allowed to use the Internet, and at the very least, Twitter should start identifying the systematic abusers of their service and taking legal action to get those people permanently banned from using the service.

It should not be incumbent upon law-abiding honest users to take action to defend themselves against this kind of harassment. Instead, it should be incumbent upon Twitter to ensure that dishonest and abusive people are not allowed to use Twitter, period. Let them figure out who unleashed these fake Twitter accounts on me — find the person responsible — and take appropriate measures to ensure that this person is punished for their fraudulent harassment, and permanently banned from Twitter.

UPDATE: John Hoge explains:

Over the last 24 hours, around 20,000 twitter account have tried to follow my @wjjhoge account. Exactly two of them were real.
This sort of deluge of spambot followers first hit Aaron Walker (@AaronWorthing) a few days ago. Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) was added to the party a few hours after I was.

This tactic has been used as part of systematic campaigns to gulag others (ask Tossing Tomatoes) and the pattern is evident:

Bad people do bad things and get away with it, so they keep doing it. But then they try to do it to me, and that’s where their trouble begins.

Go tell Del Harvey to delete all of these fakes. Tell Del Harvey to pursue legal action against the person responsible.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And, no, as of this morning, Twitter still hasn’t stopped it.

If, as I’ve been told, the going rate for fake followers is $20 per thousand, by my math (counting those fakes that were sicced on me yesterday and scraped off), someone must have spent at least $400 to inflict this plague of fake accounts on me.



118 Responses to “Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This?”

  1. A Smith
    September 13th, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    If I shared these modern “problems” with my late grandfather–who slogged across France in 1944–he would likely just smack me one.

  2. rmnixondeceased
    September 13th, 2013 @ 8:48 am

    Careful there youngster … I am fluent in Twitter and quite a bit of modern technology. Remember the “whiz-kids” that got the ball rolling with this internet thingy are all old men now …

  3. Bob Belvedere
    September 13th, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    Neal turned me into a Newt*……..I got better.


  4. Bob Belvedere
    September 13th, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    John Hoge is a warrior cut from the Classical mold, so he smiles in the face of adversity.

  5. Bob Belvedere
    September 13th, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    You could have been a test subject – that’s what your attack sounds like.

  6. CiceroTheLatest
    September 13th, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    I’ll bet your late grandfather – who slogged across France in 1944 fighting the people who seem to inspire these Neo-NAZIs – was smart enough to understand that this is an organized attempt to silence political opponents. My guess is he’d smack you one for not being astute enough to understand why that’s a problem.

  7. robertstacymccain
    September 13th, 2013 @ 9:54 am

    My father was wounded while fighting the Nazis in France, so yeah, modern problems.

    Here’s the thing: People who have never been targeted for systematic online harassment can’t really appreciate what it’s like. Until Aaron Walker wrote 28,000 describing his situation with Brett Kimberlin, I had no idea what he had been going through. To say that someone is “whining” is to miss the point completely. This isn’t about me.

    Bad people are doing bad things, and the fact that I am now the target is really coincidental, except that I have the ability to describe it and get people to pay attention to the problem. Trust me when I say that this is a serious problem, a threat to basic free speech rights online.

  8. robertstacymccain
    September 13th, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Far be it from me to endorse this unsubstantiated speculation which is, of course, entirely justified.

  9. marklangford
    September 13th, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    RT @OwainPenllyn: Hey #TGDN Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This? #FakeFollower #SpamBots via @rsmccain #tcot #tlot

  10. Quartermaster
    September 13th, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    I don’t quite resemble that remark, but I’m getting there 🙂

  11. Matthew W
    September 13th, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

    But with you being dead, that gives you about 100 IQ points over those that went to law school.

  12. Crime Is a People Problem: Why @Twitter Must Prosecute Fake Account Makers : The Other McCain
    September 13th, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    […] of fake accounts — all of them evidently generated by an algorithmic software program — have piled on following me on Twitter, I have tried to point out the obvious […]

  13. Dianna Deeley
    September 13th, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

    It’s a fair cop.

  14. Dianna Deeley
    September 13th, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    “Then we shall fight in the shade.”

  15. jon_force
    September 13th, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

    More evidence of an active effort to silence conservatives on twitter: Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This?

  16. Will @Mueller_Moriah2 Buy @Twitter IPO Shares? Will @MrDeondre__Huel? How About @MsBernhard__Mer? : The Other McCain
    September 13th, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

    […] Sept. 12: Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This? […]

  17. ‘Gosh, Stacy, There’s No Way @Twitter Could Spot All These Fake Accounts’ : The Other McCain
    September 14th, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

    […] Sept. 12: Can @Twitter @Safety Prevent This? […]

  18. Azbek
    September 14th, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    RT @rsmccain: > @delbius There is a PATTERN to the fake accounts, Del. @OwainPenllyn #tgdn