I'm sitting here, faffing with some stuff before I go make lunch, and I get a Follow notification. As is always the case, I go look at who it is, and then realise that there's a 99% certainty I just got followed by a robot.
Here's how I check the validity of followers 😀
Say hello to Nancy Donald. I’ve highlighted five things about Nancy’s profile that make me think twice about following her. They are:
1. The Avatar
2. The Username
3. Their ‘Description’
4. Followers and Following
5. They don’t follow anyone I do [WARNING KLAXON]
1. Lovely lass. If I used Google Lens, I wonder if I could find out who this really is… you’d be surprised what searching people’s avatars can turn up. In this case, no matches, but this is the standard warning that what you see is not necessarily what is real 😀
2. A username with numbers after it is a good indicator of a new account. I suspect this account has been created in the last 72 hours (and yes, look, account was created January 22) It must be said at this point that many older Twitter users have numbers after their names. Why? Because, in many cases, they see no need to change their names, or they do not know how to. It is reasonably easy with other checks to work out the difference. This all boils down to you making informed decisions over whom you follow and how you then interact with them.
3. I like a good positive affirmation, and in this case you KNOW you're not being sold something… except, of course, you are. Robots hide in people's feeds to avoid detection and to propagate disinformation. that's why who they follow and who is following them is so important.
4. Is the killer. The eight people who follow them are as far away from my interests and ideals as it is possible to get. Looking at their Likes and their media, there is no actual interaction at all with anything I’d consider as normal or indeed compelling to me.
Finally, 5 goes without saying really. yes, at some point you will be followed by people who don't follow anyone else you do. It's how small becomes huge in this space. However, if you take the time to look at the follows when you are small… you can make this a better place.
If Twitter will not (and in many cases simply cannot) police accounts fast enough, learning how to report the wrong-uns yourself is a useful way not simply of keeping this space useful, but weeding out those only interesting in impersonation and disruption.
I know what to do.
Yup, I lose a follower.
However, I stop this person scraping MY feed, and using me a hiding place.
When was the last time you actually checked who you follow?