The weird, wild world of Twitter bots

The NY Times' Nick Bilton took a deep dive into the world of Twitter bots, and even created his own army of Twitter bots (which the Twitter overlords murdered as soon as th article went live).

My Twitter bots resemble real people, with photos for avatars and bios. Meet Fabiola Shaffer: She is pretty, has long brown hair, is a writer and researcher in New York and loves chocolate. Karri B. Segal is a sophisticated woman in her mid-50s, works in advertising in New York and likes Etsy. Rick Engbarg is a tuxedo-wearing rocket scientist who freelances at SpaceX and lives in San Francisco.

Never mind that they don’t exist (and their accounts have since been suspended), figments of a few lines of computer code. I can command them to retweet certain topics (like chocolate or Ebola), favorite a tweet or follow anyone who follows them. Compared with most bot collections, which number in the tens of thousands and are often called bot farms, my enclave of 20 bots is more like a bot petting zoo.

Social Media Bots Offer Phony Friends and Real Profit

GOP set up Twitter "numbers stations" to get around Super PAC rules

Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited funds to support election campaigns, but can't coordinate with those campaigns; this especially means that campaigns can't share expensive private poll data with PACs to help fine tune their campaigns -- which is exactly what Republicans did with their cryptic, unlabelled Twitter accounts that acted as dead-drops with messages like "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s" to let affiliated PACs know what the polls had shown.

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Serial offenders plague Twitter

Glenn Fleishman reports on how the platform could fix its harassment problem.

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Twitter Strategy Statement Generator

Rob Beschizza found them all.

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Opsec, Snowden style

Micah Lee, the former EFF staffer whom Edward Snowden reached out to in order to establish secure connections to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, shares the methodology he and Snowden employed to stay secure and secret in the face of overwhelming risk and scrutiny.

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Sushi in spaaace!


The National Sushi and Space Administration's @Spacesushipic account is your best source for keeping track of the stirring imagery of our program to launch delicious raw fish into space. (via IO9)

The Terrible Sea Lion: a social media parable


Wondermark's instant classic "Terrible Sea Lion" strip is getting a fresh lease on life as a perfect parable for the experience of posting about #Gamergate and then being haunted by endlessly persistent entitled jerks.

Who is Gamergate? Analysis of 316K tweets


Waxy took a deep three-day sample of #Gamergate-tagged tweets and did some great analysis to uncover the composition and patterns of participants on both sides of the debate.

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Infosec Taylor Swift's cyber-philosophical musings

Do you like your cyberphilosophy delivered via the dulcet voice of America's country music treasure Taylor Swift? Head over to Twitter and follow @SwiftOnSecurity. Below are a few of her most incisive critiques of techno-utopianism.

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Eliza vs Gamergate


When some genius set up a 1960s non-directive chatbot psychotherapist to reply to #notyourshield tweets, hilarity ensued!

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Where wolves fuck


My friend Patrick Ball turned me on to a wonderful piece of Serbian idiom: "Vukojebina," which literally means "where wolves fuck," but is used to denote any out-of-the-way place.

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Twitter sues U.S. Justice Department for right to reveal government surveillance requests

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In a blog post titled “Taking the fight for #transparency to court,” Twitter today announced it is suing the Department of Justice for the right to report “the actual scope of surveillance of Twitter users by the U.S. government.”

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Emergent: a realtime Internet rumor tracker


It's like Snopes for Twitter, from Columbia U's journalism school.

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Twitter funds MIT Laboratory for Social Machines

Twitter committed $10 million to the MIT Media Lab to create a Laboratory for Social Machines that will study social systems, build tools for "social engagement and change," and deploy "social machines — networked human-machine collaboratives."

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Space-themed latte art


NASA knows how to celebrate National Coffee Day in style!

(via IO9)