Twitter’s model bots are, historically, some of the easiest fake accounts to visually identify. But as the bot program learns and tweaks itself, even the model bots are becoming more sophisticated. Pictures of model bots in more natural poses, with kids, and even pets are par for the course in the newest model bot accounts.
I often use several of the same model bots as visual examples when I write about bots. Some of you may recognize these.
But these models are just a small sample of the models being used across tens of thousands of accounts (and that’s a generously low estimate). Here are 18 more model bots I frequently come across while documenting fake accounts.
Once you become familiar with their faces, identifying model bot accounts becomes stunningly easy. And this is important since, regardless of how many times Twitter has been told about the patterns on these accounts and no matter how many times these accounts are reported, Twitter still hasn’t managed to get them off their platform.
Model Bot – 1
Model Bot – 2
Model Bot – 3
Model Bot – 4
Model Bot – 5
Model Bot – 6
Model Bot – 7
Model Bot – 8
Model Bot – 9
Model Bot – 10
Model Bot – 11
Model Bot – 12
Model Bot – 13
Model Bot – 14
Model Bot – 15
Model Bot – 16
Model Bot – 17
Model Bot – 18
Model Bots Matter
One common response to the model bots is that they appear harmless. But they are not. A few points:
1 > Fake is fake. There is no way for real users to know who’s behind the accounts. Is it a troll? Maybe it is a disinformation agent? Or is it “simply” a scammer?
2 > As “shell” accounts, model bots can quick-change into anything at any time. What was a romance scammer turns into a political troll in a few minutes.
3 > Many model bots amplify political rhetoric with likes, retweets, and replies. This is true even when the accounts appear “scammy.”
4 > Given the enormous number of active model bots on Twitter (they’ve been creating them daily for years), there is a collective political impact. There’s no way to avoid it.
5 > And that political impact is global. As seen in some of the examples above, the same model bots are used in the same way in many countries.
5 > The scammers are having a field day using model bot accounts. Finding people to con with romantic appeals and sob stories is much easier than the days of phone fraud.
It’s beyond bewildering that Twitter’s fancy algorithms miss such easily identifiable, fake accounts. Its so bewildering that it’s worth considering that leaving these accounts on the platform is purposeful.
Written by Virginia Murr
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