Investigative team Sadbottrue has own technologies for data gathering and for meta-analysis of big data. We focused on findings and explanation of anomalies that influence on the tech companies. We are fighting against the social media and advertising fraud ecosystem.
Chapter 38. What is really Twitter business? Part one
The true story
Anyone who uses Twitter forced to watch from time to time contextual advertising. Since promoted tweet displayed in accordance with the user's interests, we, the platform decided to show the advertising of their own services. October 4th, it looked like this.
A little over a month since the beginning of its promotion it was retweeted almost 4000 times, about 100 times a day on average. The quality of the engaged audience, as you can see, it was very doubtful.
October 27 it already had 22,000 retweets, and the number continued to grow quite rapidly, almost 800 times a day on average
Who and why needed to retweet Twitter advertising? These accounts are very much in common. Even more, they have clear distinctive features.
First, more than 90% of them have joined Twitter in 2016. There are some indications that they were created by the mass registration. Their @usernames are made with several similar templates. It often consists of popular Russian surname and a very rare (or even not already used) Russian name. There are Old Slavic names, neologisms invented in the early Soviet period and borrowed foreign exotic names. Certainly, someone (one or more persons), who created these accounts, is well aware of Russian culture and language and used the list of Russian names of different historical peоriods. It seems that it was Russians.
An explanation why a lot of bots are created in Russia and in other emerging markets (India, Brazil, etc.) is very simple. In all these countries there are ample opportunities for the mass buying cheap SIM cards for the registration confirmation via SMS. Sign up for Twitter since April 2013 is almost impossible without a phone number.
Secondly, most of their descriptions are made by one of nine templates using synonyms or equivalents. For examples an army of hundreds of digital ninjas with the description like this: @yuliimarkov96, A digital advertising ninja. Social media expert. Publisher. Designer. Continuously wanting to meet new individuals and share innovative ideas
Further, there are many variations to the replacement of the words with the same grammatical basis:
These descriptions they have right now. Initially, their descriptions consisted of short jokes in Russian, but it was automatically changed.
Third, most of them have the same number of tweets and likes, the coincidence with an error of less than 2%. They don’t have their own content, just retweets and likes and the same accounts.
Fourthly, only the four are the most popular account for this audience. The majority of accounts which retweeted promoted TwitterBusinessAdt usually retweet mostly this 4 account.
According to its stats, it is very popular accounts. They have from 45 to 116 thousand followers. But the strangest thing is a statistical anomaly in the activity level of the audience.
The number of retweets of every tweet is from 3.1 to 3.9 thousand, the number of likes always is correlated with it, it is always about 500 less than retweets.
Let's summarize. Thousands of accounts signed by a single template in Russia in the current year have been transferred under the control of the new owner, who renamed them, changed their description, and now uses them to simulate the active audience of 4 accounts, using the same algorithm. We see all the features of a primitive botnet. that increases stats of promoted Twitter for Business tweet.
Is it reasonable to ask sad questions to Twitter Support and Twitter Marketing? Apparently, it is meaningless. They either do not look at who reacted to the advertising and could become a client, or consider them to be real people. Therefore, twitter analysts considers all of them the monthly active users.
There is a third option. They know that it is bots and consider it completely normal. If this were not so, they would have suspended them. But this is not happening.
We tried to understand what was going on and made some very interesting findings.
We have studied in detail that 4 account, which is associated with the botnet. Each of them is very suspicious, but now we will talk only about the most important one.
It is @LoftyFollows which offers promotion services on any Social Networks
Learn the best social media strategy to improve your brand presence and attract new customers on all social platforms daily, says its description.
We already understand, what kind of the audience it can offer “to improve your brand presence”. The account contains a link to the online store Mycheapjobs-inc, where you can buy items such as Twitter retweets and followers, Instagram followers, YouTube views, SoundCloud plays, as well as more exotic WSHH views, Reverbnation plays, Etsy promotion.
Here are some examples of prices.
1000 retweets per tweet $149.00
10,000 Instagram followers $50.00
15,000 YouTube Views $24.00
Must be said that the prices are very high. Especially considering the fact that the quality of services provided by the botnet is quite low. For such money, you can buy a very high-quality imitation, which is very difficult to distinguish from the people.
Co-founder and CEO of Twitter is Jack Dorsey
Co-founder and CEO of Square is Jack Dorsey
Square does not prohibit to sell fake Twitter and any others social network’s engagement according to its own rules. But Twitter considers such services illegal.
Fake engagements on Twitter
Can I purchase or sell account interactions (i.e. Twitter followers, retweets or favorites) on Twitter?
No. Twitter strictly prohibits the purchasing and selling of account interactions on our platform. When you purchase followers, retweets, and favorites, you are often purchasing bot (fake) or hacked accounts. Any account caught participating in this behavior will be in violation of the Twitter Rules and may be suspended.
- If your account is found to have purchased followers, retweets or favorites, your account may be suspended.
- If your account is promoting the selling of followers, retweets or favorites, your account may be suspended.
- If your account is set up with the sole purpose of selling followers, retweets or favorites, your account may be suspended.
Best practices support.twitter.com
You may not use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone. What constitutes “spamming” will evolve as we respond to new tricks and tactics by spammers. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming are:
- if you are creating misleading accounts or account interactions;
- if you are selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, Retweets, likes, etc.); and
- if you are using or promoting third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising "more followers fast", or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account).
Our policies: The Twitter Rules support.twitter.com
The Bot facts
1. Twitter Marketing can’t detect the obvious bot activity in their own accounts and promoted tweets.
2. Twitter Support
3. You can safely and securely buy retweets in Square store from the botnet, that mimics the activity of Twitter for Business audience.
The Sad question
Instead of an epilog