Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Approach to Following Accounts on Twitter

(last updated 3/5/2019)

I periodically take Twitter vacations so if you look up @lauriedtmann on Twitter and I seem to be gone, I'm likely to be back in a couple of weeks.

When it first got going, I was one of the "What's the point of Twitter?" people, even though I joined in 2008. But, gradually, I found it more interesting, and, since late 2012, have been an avid participant.

I like real followers. I regularly purge bots and inactive followers except for a few friends who like to read but not participate.

I was delighted when Twitter finally started to deal with its bot problems.  On 2/20/2018, they started to delete accounts from bot farms.  The grief the far right expressed over losing their bots was very funny.  Thank-you, Twitter, it was a start. Hope you continue to boot the bots. Sadly, they don't seem to be deleting bots very often. Maybe they got too many complaints from Republicans, who have been the big beneficiaries of bot farms.

There aren't reliable tools for finding bots unless you have their IP addresses (which Twitter does).  There are some tools you can use once or twice but then they demand payments.  Twitter was getting better at identifying/purging certain kinds of spambots, like these:
I do not intend to share pic on Twitter however you can add my snapchat: XXXX so I am able to send you my pictures etc.
Goт мy ғιrѕт oғғer тodαy ғroм 100ĸғollowerѕ INC, GET 10,000 Twιттer Followerѕ ғor $39, αт http://bit.ly/XXXXXXX
I now report profiles like those to Twitter as spambots before I block them.

While pro-Republican bots are easier to identify, there are pro-Democratic bots as well, and I'll block them as readily as any other bots.  There are some people who are trying so hard to conceal their identities so their accounts look like bot accounts.  When I see an account with a string of numbers in its account name, I almost always block it as a possible bot.   So if you're a real person but I've blocked you anyway, that's why - your account looks too much like a bot account.

If you add me to a list, or if you reply to a LOT of people in the same tweet and you copy me, I will block you. 

I'm not the kind to follow back everyone. I don't follow and I always block any of the following kinds of accounts:
  • Accounts that are sexist, racist, religiously fanatical, gun-loving, #RWNJ (RightWingNutJob), #GamerGate (if you don't know about this, you really don't want to know about this), pro-puppy (ditto), political bots (people obviously only trying to make trouble).  
  • Any account with a gun in their profile or background picture or that posts obscene pictures or disrespectful graphics of people, with the exception of Trump who's gone out of his way to earn our disrespect.
  • Commercial-only accounts (except for those related to interesting books, movies, restaurants or places to visit), or accounts by individuals that seem only to link to "special deals." Some of these individual accounts have perfectly-reasonable bios, but when you read the tweets, it's clear these "individuals" have nothing real to say and are only trying to sell you something.
  • Any profile with the word "expert" or "influencer" in it (and most with the word "marketing" in it), though I make an exception if the person posts interesting tweets (most self-proclaimed experts/influencers do not).
  • Accounts with an "egg" icon, a fish-face photo, a porn-like photo or no biographical info. I want to know something about the people I'm following. If you can't say something about yourself or upload a photo, how do I know you're not just a bot? Twitter should be interactive - why should we interact? Occasionally, I do follow egg/no bio accounts when they've made some interesting tweets.                                                                      
  • Trolls (and, yes, sometimes even accounts I'd agree with on paper are trolls who are only there to stir things up).
  • Any tweet that's just a link gets its account blocked and reported because often these are links to viruses.
  • People I know IRL and would rather not engage with on Twitter. It's a free country.
  • People who use "tools" that spam people with direct messages (which are an annoying "feature" of Twitter) like http://www.twitterautofollowback.com/.  I generally block anyone who DMs me or who primarily posts how many people have followed/unfollowed them.
  • Accounts with the message "These tweets are protected."  I want to be able to read some of your tweets before I follow you.  Any bot can construct a half-way "real" profile.
While I'm very active on #resistance and #uniteblue, I don't automatically follow-back because some people who are members of  #resistance or #uniteblue fall under one of the above categories.  And, like everywhere else, some of those accounts are also bots.

I also think demanding a follow back or visiting a link is silly. I appreciate follow backs but don't demand them. I might be too outspoken for many and that's fine.

Basically, when I run into people I'd rather not follow, I #blockandmoveon. If they're overly abusive, commercial, or pornographic, I also report them to Twitter.

I do not read DMs. They are a horrific waste of time. With only a few exceptions, they've been spam from a Twitter app or harassment.

I'm glad there are now tools to make blocking abuse accounts much easier. If you're interested in learning more about blocking sock puppets, visit BlockTogether. You can create block lists and share them if you'd like to. If you got ensnared in the whole #GamerGate mess, follow GGAutoBlocker on Twitter.

I had high hopes for botcheck.me, but it really isn't reliable yet.  Ditto Botometer (formerly bot or not)  Damn!  Twitter has killed some bots but not all of them.

1 comment:

@WiseRiseInfo said...

What a refreshing & brutally frank(in a good way) statement. As a newer tweeter you've given a great primer in creating my own follow-back policy.

Great read!