Twitter accidentally confirmed at least six accounts that were probably part of a spam botnet, according to a disinformation researcher and a new report from Daily dot. The accounts allegedly used fake images made of software similar to This person does not exist, as well as one image of a cat that most probably does exist.
Twitter user Conspirador Norteño first identified the fake accounts, all of which had been launched less than a month ago June 16. Norteño identified the six confirmed accounts belonging to a malicious group of over 1000 accounts, although it is not clear who is behind the fake Twitter army.
“These 976 accounts are part of an astroturf botnet consisting of (at least) 1212 accounts,” Norteño tweeted on Monday.
Three of the accounts used drawings of women, two used pictures of women, and one used a picture of a cat. The cat’s biography read “Anlamislar official Twitter account”, and the account had only 1,039 Twitter followers, according to a screenshot from Norteño. All six of the accounts have been taken down.
The cat photo appears on several Pinterest boards for cute wallpapers of cats, and blog posts like “21 pictures of cats that look cute in cups“But it is not clear who originally photographed the kitty.
“We incorrectly approved requests for verification of a small number of unauthentic (fake) accounts. We have now suspended the relevant accounts permanently, and removed their verified mark under ours platform manipulation and spam policy“A Twitter spokesman told Gizmodo via email early Tuesday.
Social media companies did not elaborate on who could be behind the accounts, even though the accounts allegedly sent out Korean-language spam.
How can so many fake accounts be verified? You guess it’s as good as ours, but the Daily Dot speculates that it could have been someone working inside. Remember when Twitter briefly deleted President Donald Trump’s account in November 2017, long before his permanent ban? It was the result of an employee who could no longer take Trump’s nonsense and suspended Trump on his last day as a hero.
In this case, there is a chance that someone on Twitter confirmed these accounts for a reason. But at this point, it’s just a wild guess. The second option? Twitter’s verification criteria are just nonsense and they are throwing darts at a dartboard.