Another dot in the blogosphere?

Different sorts of #crapdetection

Posted on: December 23, 2016

In 2016, much of the Internet-connected world seemed to wake up to the post-truth world.

People have questioned Facebook’s role in spreading fake news [some examples]. There is a Chrome extension that fact-checks Trump’s tweets. Columnists and talk show hosts alike enjoy endless ammunition in the form of dubious news and information.

While all this gets the attention it deserves, there are other less obvious but equally important traps to avoid. I have noticed at least three forms on Twitter.

  1. The first is direct tweets, mostly from bots, that thank you for following them even though you have not. These tempt you to click on profile or embedded links. Do not do this because you do not know where those URLs lead to. Just look to see if there is a “Following” label in their profile instead.
  2. There people who might include you on their “myfollowers” lists. If you are not sure, click on their profiles and check if you are following them.
  3. There are also some bot or bot-like accounts that might follow you. I get these on an almost daily basis and some have identical profile URLs. They are hoping you will reciprocate or hope that your real followers take notice and follow them.

Whether the accounts claim to follow you or that you follow them, their intent is to try to artificially inflate their following or get you to click on dubious URLs. Neither is ethical behaviour.

My main strategy is to block all three types of tweet accounts. I also started compiling a list of spambots a while ago. I stopped doing this and just blocked them but recently resumed adding them to the list in case this is useful to others.

I like to think of this sort of curative activity as pruning a garden so that weeds do not have the opportunity to grow.

This sort of crap detection is preventive. As you maintain an open mind, you do not leave it so open that a lot of rubbish falls in.

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