I’m one of those people who tends to review the people who are following me on Twitter and to block a great number of them. Why? Because many of them aren’t real people!
Here are a few examples:
Juliette only has one tweet and it says “Just setting up my Twitter. #myfirstTweet”
Gosh, the pretty blonde whose random mashup of bio statement says “Author, Musician, Harry Potter Lover, Idea Agent, Troll King, You’re beautiful” must be a cyber security fan who has read some of my tweets and was inspired to follow me, right?
More likely, she is part of the botnet that has been assigned to search for the three character string “GAR” and follow people who come up in the search results. Like these folks:
This has been going on for some time . . . in fact, the shortcut for me is to look at the followers of “@gar” (the “communist socialist libertarian anarchist who likes tacos”) on that last row. Almost all of this guy’s recent followers are part of this bot:
How can we be sure? Well, they do have something in common . . . besides a desire to follow people with “Gar” in their name or bio. See if you can spot the pattern?
Many of the images are coming from “royalty free stock images” sites, which might imply someone is trying to be “legal” with their bot … not sure.
And lest you think this is just a “pretty girls who follow you” bot, there are male accounts as well, although recently the males seem to be primarily Spanish (or Catalan):
And these accounts also share their passion for people named “Gar” . . .
More Tweets of Wisdom
Over time, the accounts do tweet things other than “Just setting up my Twitter. #myfirstTweet”. They share great wisdom such as:
“Love sees no faults” … “Hope is life” … “Every bird loves to listen to himself sing”
I don’t know if you can call Shery’s post “wisdom” — “i hate #cats” and “i love #dogs” and “i don’t think there is such thing as too much #coffee”
One odd variation of this bot is something I think of as “StonerBot” … it starts out the same way. @Janecarrson started with “Just setting up my Twitter #myfirstTweet” and following a bunch of Gar accounts:
But then things quickly go off the tracks … in a decidedly marijuana friendly way:
StonerBotJane has posted 20 photos, instead of just one liners, and expanded beyond her “Gar” following to follow many other accounts, several of which feature nudity in their profile pictures. Also, unlike my “GarBot” followers, StonerBotJane has a cover photo.
Looking at some of the other people’s accounts that were followed by “GarBot” it was easy to spot many other “StonerBot” variants. These all follow “@ColegSirGar”
Victoria, Deirdre, Maria, Jane, and Leah, all behave like StonerBotJane, while Sarah, Olivia, and Julia are all more like the original “GarBot” (which surely must follow people with other names as well, but the version I am most familiar with, for obvious reasons, I refer to in my head as “GarBot.”
Actually, Sarah Black is a good bot going stoner … she still hasn’t gone to posting drug photos, but her two most recent follows were ‘non-Gar’ accounts of questionable topics, and although she still hasn’t chosen a cover photo, she did post a photo in a tweet with a drug reference.
Sarah’s path to corruption includes forsaking the following of “Gar” accounts and choosing to follow two pornographic Twitter accounts …
Her last tweet was “Gonna roll a jay before I eat this beauty.”
I think I’ll stop there … but I would certainly be interested in hearing from you if you have found your own version of a “GarBot” following you and others with similar names. I’m genuinely curious how far this thing goes. If you happen to know what research team is behind this project, please feel free to send me a note about that as well!
A few more of my “GarBots” . . . just in case more examples help anyone who is researching this trend themselves . . .