Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Approach to Following Accounts on Twitter

(last updated 8/13/2020)

A typical tweet from me

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. Twitter will let you report likely bot accounts as fake accounts - when you report a likely bot account, select "'It's suspicious or spam" and then select "The account is fake," then block the account.

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.

I no longer follow any real account that makes a request for followers. When an account makes a request for followers, it typically gets "bot-bombed," so instead of getting say, 5 or 10 real followers in a day, it'll get thousands of bot-followers. They are thrilled to have that many followers - except most of them are based in Russia or Nigeria. So, sorry, if you ask for followers, even if you are a real person, I will not follow you. And you should never follow any accounts that ask for followers.

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. Here are the kinds of accounts I avoid:
  • 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 (particularly of Melania - the problem is DON not her)  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.
  • Anyone pushing scams like cryptocurrency (which may some day be more legitimate but is still pretty dicey) is an instant #BlockAndMoveOn 
  • Men (or women for that matter) whose profiles say something like "I'm sincere and looking for love."  Please, there's got to be more to your life than "looking for love" (unless the account really is just a bot as that's a common bot tactic).
  • 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 have a half-way "real" profile constructed for it, but seeing some of the tweets can also help show whether it's a real person or a bot. 
  • Anyone who posts the proported name of any alleged anonymous whistleblower.  I was stunned to find someone I followed who claimed to be a #Resister retweeting the possible name of a whistleblower. This is nuts all the way around.
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.  Twitter Audit will tell you how many bots are following you for free, but you have to pay to find out which accounts are bots.  @BotSentinel is a useful account to follow if you want information about political bots 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. And more come online every day, so always #BlockAndMoveOn.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who Voted in the Senate to Protect Military Rapists?

There has been an epidemic of reported rapes in the military over the last few years. So what does the Senate Armed Services Committee decide to do?

Protect the rapists.

I'm particularly disappointed by Claire McCaskill's vote. She, sometimes, pretended to be a progressive (certainly compared to Todd Akin, she was). But she's a woman with half a brain in her head part of the time, and yet she voted to continue to shield military rapists. SHAME!

(corrected phone list from Politics USA)

Kelly Ayotte (R -NH) (202) 224-3324
Roy Blunt (R – MO) (202) 224-5721
Saxby Chambliss (R – GA) (202) 224-3521
Deb Fischer (R – NE) (202) 224-6551
Lindsey Graham (R – SC) (202) 224-5972
James Inhofe (R – OK) (202) 224-4721
Tim Kaine (D – VA) (202) 224-4024
Angus King (I – ME) (202) 224-5344
Mike Lee (R – UT) (202) 224-5444
Carl Levin (D – MI) (202) 224-6221
Joe Manchin (D – WV) (202) 224-3954
John McCain (R – AZ) (202) 224-2235
Claire McCaskill (D – MO)(202) 224-6154
Bill Nelson (D – FL) (202) 224-5274
Jack Reed (D – RI) (202) 224-4642
Jeff Sessions (R – AL) (202) 224-4124
Roger Wicker (R – MS) (202) 224-6253

Twitter list, many of the same people who voted against the Violence Against Women Act and Gun Background Checks:

@KellyAyotte @RoyBlunt @SaxbyChambliss

@SenatorFischer @GrahamBlog @jiminhofe

@timkaine @SenAngusKing @SenMikeLee

@SenCarlLevin @Sen_JoeManchin @SenJohnMcCain

@clairecmc @SenBillNelson @SenJackReed

@SenatorSessions @SenatorWicker

Remembering the Newtown Kids on Father's Day

On Mother's Day, I stumbled over a lovely essay by one of the Newtown Mothers...and it made me want to remember each of the kids. I would be especially angry if I were a Newtown mother, on Mother's Day. These kids should all still be with their parents and their schools. So, I tweeted about each of the kids in honor of Father's Day. Here's what I said:

  • The 1st Father's Day after #newtown - we should remember the kids who were murdered that day, as a callous government doesn't care - WE DO!
  • Remembering Emilie Parker who would've been 7 on 5/12, wanted to be Hermionie Granger for her birthday. #newtown
  • Remembering Charlotte Bacon, in whose memory a Kindness Award was started. #newtown
  • Remembering Jesse Lewis who wrote "Nurturing Healing Love" on a chalkboard at home before he was murdered. #newtown
  • Remembering the rambunctious Noah Pozner whose twin sister was in another class. #newtown
  • Remembering red-headed Daniel Barden whose dad taught him Jingle Bells on the piano on his last morning. #newtown
  • Remembering Olivia Engel, who was a Daisy Girl Scout. #newtown
  • Remembering Josephine Gay, who loved the water and whose parents set up a fund for autistic children. #newtown
  • Remembering Dylan Hockley whose parents included a reading of Goodnight Moon at his memorial service. #newtown
  • Remembering Madeleine Hsu who loved dogs and wearing pink. #newtown
  • Remembering Catherine Hubbard who loved animals. Her parents asked for donations to an animal center. #newtown
  • Remembering Chase Kowalski who loved sports & played baseball. #newtown
  • Remembering Ana Marquez-Greene, who sang via video during her funeral. #newtown
  • Remembering James Mattioli who always loved to sing. #newtown
  • Remembering Grace McDonnell who loved the beach. #newtown
  • Remembering Jack Pinto who was buried in a NY Giants jersey. #newtown
  • Remembering Caroline Previdi whose favorite charity was The Toy Chest at her church. #newtown
  • Remembering Jessica Rekos who wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. #newtown
  • Remembering Avielle Richman whose Dad had been blogging about her adventures in 2012. #newtown
  • Remembering Jonathan Wheeler who wanted to be a paleontologist. #newtown
  • Remembering Allison Wyatt, an artistic girl who shared with strangers. #newtown
  • We should never forget the children of #newtown, particularly on Father's Day. Write your representative - better gun laws save lives.

Never forget that these were the senators who cared more about the NRA's opinion of them than the 90% of the public who wants better background checks. Here are the Twitter accounts of these senators:

@SenAlexander @KellyAyotte @SenJohnBarrasso @MaxBaucus @SenatorBegich

@RoyBlunt @JohnBoozeman @SenatorBurr @SaxbyChambliss @SenDanCoates

@TomCoburn @JeffFlake @SenThadCochran @SenBobCorker @JohnCornyn

@MikeCrapo @SenTedCruz @SenatorEnzi @SenMikeLee @SenatorFischer

@GrahamBlog @ChuckGrassley @SenOrrinHatch @jiminhofe

@SenatorHeitkamp @SenDeanHeller @SenJohnHoeven @SenatorIsakson

@Mike_Johanns @SenRonJohnson @McConnellPress @JerryMoran

@lisamurkowski @SenRandPaul @robportman @SenMarkPryor @SenatorRisch

@SenPatRoberts @marcorubio @SenatorTimScott @SenatorSessions

@SenShelbyPress @SenJohnThune @DavidVitter @SenatorWicker