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Twitter hack results in following more accounts

Mon 11th November 2013

Those of you that follow @rikkiprince on Twitter might have noticed that I got cracked the other day. First off, sorry to those who got bombarded with a drivel of direct messages.

I knew it was coming. My password was extremely weak, and is probably on some leaked password lists on the Internet, I expect from the PlayStation Network crack in 2011. I was really wondering how long it would take to happen. At least two years, it seems the answer is.

This blog post isn’t here to make excuses or pretend it was on purpose, but to shed light on a phenomenon that I hadn’t expected. I knew that the result of having my account cracked would be a few messages posted in my name; it’s surprising that they were all direct messages rather than a public tweets (I guess a personal approach is statistically more successful?) What really knocked me for six is the number of new people I am now following!

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I used to try to keep my Follower count and Following count fairly similar (to avoid looking like a spam bot). Then it crept up a bit. I remember following about 100 more people than I had followers. That was because I’d stopped being interesting, and had found a bunch more interesting people! However, since I got cracked I’m now up over 1,100! I expected it to be a little under 800.

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Looking at my list, I notice I now follow a bunch of complete trash spam bot accounts. There two are things that make this difficult to clean up:

  • I follow random people, based on an interesting retweet or two, but if they don’t post regularly I might not recognise them
  • The cracker appears to have refollowed some people I stopped following, or perhaps it unfollowed them and refollowed them

What is problematic is that it should just be the last ~300 I followed that I can get rid of. However, the two points above now mean I have to spend a bit longer sifting through to make sure I don’t lose anyone interesting. Or perhaps now is the time to delete my following list and start Twitter again? 🙂

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8 Comments
  1. Hmm, I’m wondering if what it did is intersperse following random spam accounts (you know you can pay for followers? this is what they do…) with people that already followed me (to make it hard for me to remember if I was already following those people).

    I’m currently using ManageFlitter to both show me what the new accounts are like (follower/following counts etc) and mark them to be unfollowed.

    Unfortunately, thanks to Twitter idiocy ManageFlitter can no longer bulk unfollow people. Of course bots that crack your account aren’t subject to these rules, so can bulk follow people, but then Twitter don’t provide a tool for bulk unfollowing. Well done Twitter; another well thought out plan there…

  2. There was a *fabulous* tool for analysing who you follow and how spammy they are. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name… helpful, no?

  3. This will unfollow everyone you are not following back ->
    http://www.theblockbot.com/theunfollower/connect.php

    I wrote it and tested it … So pretty sure it will work. Just de-authorise the app when finished, not cos u don’t trust me but because it’s good practice 😉

  4. I have just gone into my account and found I am following 500 peep, omg, I was only following like 20 the other day. whats going on? now if I decide to unfollow all of these at once twitter will ban me for a severe unfollow now. so now I will have to unfollow these a few a day. great. what a way to spend my hours.

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