Plato quotes has followed me. BUT WHY
June 17, 2015 12:41 AM   Subscribe

I keep getting followed by spammy Twitter accounts that don't link to anything or sell anything, as far as I can tell. What is their purpose?

Every day it seems like I get about 4-5 spam followers on Twitter that are quote accounts. There are a handful of other types of these: cute animals, "random facts", etc. A lot of them have links in them, and I'm guessing those ones are clickbait, but I have a fair few following me that don't seem to link anywhere. A lot of them seem to have a ton of followers. I think some of these might automatically unfollow people who don't follow them back, because I tend not to see a bunch of these in my followed by list; it's also possible that Twitter is suspending them.

There's got to be some reason behind these accounts. What's the profit in just getting a bunch of followers, if that's the goal? Are they selling the accounts off? Is it some kind of Russian Troll Factory type conspiracy?

This is the kind of account I'm talking about. (Archive link)
posted by NoraReed to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
RIGHT AFTER I posted it, that one posted a link to a clickbait/chum site. There are others that seem to follow that kind of pattern; I cannot make sense of why.
posted by NoraReed at 1:04 AM on June 17, 2015

I suspect some of these type accounts are basically part of an ad network: they follow a lot of people trying to get follow-backs and then sell tweet links to the clickbait/chum.

In the case of two of the sites you mention, I see they have similar account names to do with quotes, both were started in June, 2011, and both are currently constantly updating with linkbaity links, deleting the minutes-older linkbaity links to be replaced with new ones, so yeah I imagine that they are part of a twitter-based "network" that you can buy chum ads on, in the form of tweets, and they need followers for that purpose. There could be untold numbers of these in a network (here's another that seems linked with those two quote sites, for example) and if they each have 1,000-5,000 followers they've managed to acquire via follow-backs, that can deliver a fair number of eyeballs.

If they are paying attention, I bet you get culled eventually if you don't follow back, as a part of some algorithmic method to keep Twitter Co convinced that they are "real" accounts and not an ad network. [<-- my conjecture]
posted by taz at 1:49 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

They're the Twitter equivalent of those spammy Outbrain links that litter the bottom of every news site on the internet, only they're even cheaper to run because the bandwidth is free and all you have to do is chop up public domain Great Books or steal cute animal tweets. People follow for the inspirational quotes or duckies and then click on your ad-infested sub-Buzzfeed list of 64 Colorized Hot Babes from Secret History.

(It's awful to see the works of Plato and Skateboarding Baby Goat exploited this way.)
posted by Polycarp at 1:53 AM on June 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

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