Thank you Herkimer Elementary for a Twitter spam case study
As my Twitter followers and other friends will know, I actively campaign against balloon releases — they litter, and harm wildlife.
This post isn’t about that, but about something odd which I discovered while doing so.
Each day, I search Twitter for people who are planning a balloon release, and politely ask them not to do it. A sufficient number to make this worthwhile, oblige.
About a year or so ago, give or take, I saw a tweet, the URL of which I have long since lost track of, saying:
Thank you Herkimer Elementary for a beautiful balloon release. Headed to Slavic Pentacostal Church.
(Both venues are in Herkimer, New York, USA, if you wondered.)
But then a while later, I saw exactly the same text tweeted by someone else. Then again by another account, a few days later, then again. This went on, week after week. Gradually, the frequency increased, and now at any time there are hundreds of recent tweets with that text:
You can try the ‘Herkimer Elementary beautiful balloon release’ search yourself.
If we examine one of the accounts tweeting that, say @janinemccormi (picked at random), we can see he’s tweeted other things:
(Interestingly, a Google image search shows that @janinemccormi’s avatar is shared with @sanevekaxu7, whose account is suspended.)
Those messages have each been tweeted lots of other people:
And so it goes on: hundreds of identical tweets, from accounts making hundreds of other duplicate tweets. You’ll be able to find plenty more examples.
Now, at the risk of casting aspersions on innocent bystanders, I think it’s safe to assume that those are not genuine accounts (or if they are, they’re compromised).
If I were Twitter, I’d be looking into this and suspending some accounts. A lot of accounts.