Some accounts that distribute Twitter bots are following hundreds (sometimes thousands) of locked bot and troll accounts in a row.
Consider how astronomically implausible it is that an account would find and follow so many legitimate locked accounts in a row.
Once the locked bot accounts are dispersed—individually, rather than in a sequence of other locked bots—they become nearly impossible to identify. They look like any other locked account.
Even the model bots are getting in on the “locked bot” action.
Locked Bots are a Problem for Real Users
This abuse of the platform raises several big problems for real users.
1 > Locked accounts, by definition, cannot be vetted. So real users end up with more bots, cyborgs, and trolls in their followers, leaving them more susceptible to disinformation and attacks.
2 > When locked bots show up in your followers, you do not receive a typical “new follower” notification. They fly under the radar.
3 > Real accounts inadvertently lend legitimacy to locked fake accounts if they follow back because the more real users an account has in its followers, the more real the account appears.
For these reasons, I recommend blocking (or soft-blocking) locked accounts that you do not know.
And that leads me to the biggest problem with the locked bots. In the cesspool of locked bots, legitimately locked accounts will become suspect by default because the average user will not be able to tell a real locked account from a fake.
These accounts and the abuse of the platform are easy to spot. Still, Twitter has done next-to-nothing to stop them. Until they do, unknown locked followers should be blocked to help squelch the bot infestation and to help keep real accounts safe from disinformation and attack.
Written by Virginia Murr
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