Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Trollbots redux

I guess one of my trollbots sent you here. Welcome.

While you're here, check out the worlds' best pepper sauces @ Peppermaster.com

Carry on...

So, I'm going to begin telling you my tale, right off the bat, by saying I have Aspergers' Syndrome. I am autistic and thus I am well aware of my personal abilities both intellectually and physically. I am (the vast majority of the time), a very competent, fully functioning, quirky, if not downright, odd, contributor to society. I am very good at what I do and I surround myself by people who are the best at what they do. I am the perfect example of exactly what an Aspie can create of themselves if left to maximize their own destiny. But, I didn't get your attention to tell you about me.

I got your attention because I need your help to protect our democracy, or the US' or someones. At least I believe this is what's going on.

You see, Twitter has become infested with troll bots. I call them troll bots because they've ruined my beloved Twitter.

Now don't you roll your eyes at me, I am serious.

When I first began tweeting, such a very long time ago, @ev and @jack were still active and @GuyKawasaki was always blasting something cool at the top of my stream. Oprah wasn't even a thing. I spent my time on twitter discussing peppers and food and politics and current events on all manner of topics with journalists, writers, marketing people, and researchers of some topic or other, for the most part. Twitter was an intellectual paradise. Most people didn't like it and didn't get it.

Then came the bots.
First there were sex bots, but they were followed by porn stars, and so became real people, so not so bad. Then when the celebrities showed up we got fanbots and Stans, those for the most part were aggregators and actual diehard fans, so, mostly real people, real things.

Then someone created follow bot parties with the US elections to, I guess, generate enormous groups of people making noise on the partisan issue of the day and things kinda got all blue wavey or orange peepee tape and we got to see the full extent of what could happen to this year's election in Canada should the interference be allowed to happen here.

Then we got Anti-Trudeau bots who, fascinatingly only showed up in ridiculous numbers the second that Justin Trudeau became leader of the Federal Liberal party and subsequently carried their party to win the election in 2014. The vast majority of these come from real people, conservative tweeters who have serious issues with life, generally, but for whatever reason don't like our Prime Minister and will use the platform to actively denigrate him in a caracature so far out of the reality that we're supposed to compare him to Ghengis Khan.

The Conservative party membes are using bot techniques to make noise on Twitter and they have an exhorbitantly large number of followers who are very active and frankly, very mean people, especially for Canadians, if you ask me.

But most recently, I have seen what I began by dubbing “Partisan bots”, because they seemed to be single issue people with an agenda, mostly subjected above, but for the most part, just unpleasant tweeters. And so I'd been screening those as well. Now they're not so bad, if you can avoid that topic with them.

So, until this last week, with few possible exceptions, those were the sort of tweeters I would see show up in my follows.

Now we old time tweeters we like to control our tweetstream so that it reflects our desired experience, remember, WE are here with our own agendas. We want specific information, we want detailed topics, those will be reflected in our tweetstream. So, you can really tell who a person is, and what they do by the people they follow and the people who follow them and you can tell a lot about your pending experience with a new follower by how they tweet and reply. Now, I'm a bit picky about whom I hang with, so, if you're all over my stream calling people names or generally being nasty, I won't be hanging with you, in fact, if you're nasty enough, I'll just straight up report and block you.

So, when I see newbies hanging around, I don't tend to just blindly accept new people, unless they are already friends of friends.

And there suddenly is where I discovered a very scary problem.

There is a new bot in town. They are insipid, they are multitudinous, and they are a friend of yours.

Let me let that sink in.

They are a friend of yours.

Did you know, the breaking heart feels just like shattering glass.

In the Twitter political world, given the fact that the vast majority of earliest adopters consist of journalists, and researchers, the unbiased, non partisan crew is a pretty close-knit bunch. We all know each other at least in a twitter-to-twitter capacity simply because we have been here so long.

Most recently, several very odd things occurred that made me feel paranoid, and nervous. Now, truth be told, I do have Aspergers' Syndrome, and I'm always a mite paranoid and nervous, so when my Aspie senses tingle, I pay attention. I don't have synapses scissors and PTSD can readily send me into meltdown. So, I pay attention. We don't like meltdown.

So, I sent a direct message to one of my long-time non-partisan canadian politics tweeter friends who I know to be quite sane, asking
"Hey... WTFis https://twitter.com/long_daze??? You can see the date she became this person: https://twitter.com/Marilyn58280817 "

That message triggered a week-long conversation that has brought me through several stages of great disbelief, disgust, and into absolute total fear for my life, before bringing me to the point where I am now writing down this treatise.

Twitter is a fascinating tool in that your twitter lists are all kept in the order they were created, latest on the top. So, you might wonder, why I believe that Cheryl is Marilyn, well, in this photograph, you can see the the very first tweople that Cheryl, aka, long_daze followed.

And here, you can see the very first followers of Cheryl.

and of course, you are examining these two follower lists and thinking, and?

Now bear with me, because essentially, what I have found is the key to stopping the current largest threat to our democracy, and no I do NOT mean white men, I mean the troll bots.

Cue ominous music.

I know, I know, sounds silly, I know what you're thinking. Blah blah blah, bots, trolls, blah, politics, blah blah.

Except we non-partisan, old timer tweeters, know better. That noise didn't use to exist. And, better than ever, we know whom we are.

But, the troll bots don't. And that is how I caught them. One friend even tweeted to ask if I were a spy.

Now, you might be sitting there really thinking I'm a total quack job, but let me give you a little more detail about me before you blow my insanity off.

Not only am I long time tweeter. I am a security snob and the computer/internet/network/server geek in-house at my teeny company. I got onto my first computer when I was a little girl. I am 53. My Father was an electrical engineer and I was coding by grade 8. I also geek on creating databases. Y'know, I read a little legal code for fun, (okay, a lot, I read a lot of legal code for fun), I get off on the heartbeat of politics. So this little corner of twitter is very personal to me.

I am also not really nobody. As meek and demure as I come across. I am a little bit larger than life. (I'll work on the humility thing later). Now, I count among my personal mutual follows some very famous names. My favourite is this one...

Barack Obama follows me! Which is likely the only reason I made it onto their radar. And since THEY think I'm an influencer, YOU are on their radar. Now I truly expect to lose friends over this article, but that's okay. I learned a long time ago, some people come for a time or a season, and your true friends never leave.

Okay, I know, he also follows another 614K other people but still, I am one of them and you are not. I mention POTUS Obama because we already know that there was interference in the US election using social media channels. Likely, this is how they are doing it, and frankly, I don't care to participate, so they need to know what to look for. They likely already know and if they do, bonus, if they don't well, maybe I'll get the Pulitzer. I'm not holding my breath.

Once upon a time, our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau followed me back. They turn off the leader of the country's personal Twitter while leader of the country, apparently and his follows are those of the leader of the country, I suppose. And, as I learned with President Obama, when Trudeau ceases to be Prime Minister, and he regains full control of his own twitter stream, I will get that follow back. Unless I've ticked him off so much since he became PM, that he's deliberately unfollowed me, that is. We'll see.

But I digress. My point is that the reason someone wanting to subvert our democracy follows me, is because they think I am important.

I may be simply a little teeny hot sauce purveyor who owns a little teeny custom food manufacturing company in the small town in Quebec that floods every year, but I am “friends” with some very important people. These people range from those I've mentioned to Canadian Captains of Industry, some professional sportspeople, politicians, and am personally connected to a lot of Canadian parliamentarians. So, in the unlikely event that this tale of intrigue and drama turns out to truly be the threat to our democracy that this may be, and not just a hothead Aspie in action, for those folks sake, they and you need to know how to protect yourself from being their dupe. We wouldn't allow the sexbots to use our voices, why would we allow those who'd strip us of our democracy? We wouldn't, well, I wouldn't.

I also live in a world of magic and mystery as an energy witch and professional tarot reader, so I see energies and patterns in life and actively look for them. Ones that others might not recognize or even notice until it punched them in the head. So it was no great surprise that when this odd little puzzle landed in my lap, I had to pursue it.

On this day in question Cheryl, showed up out of the blue. I had no clue who Cheryl is, but Cheryl made an overtly partisan comment to me. It was heavily Liberal, and I am a progressive, so Liberal partisans like me, for the most part. She made the comment to me as if she knew me, though. The energy she threw into tweeting my name was as if she wanted the world to think we were friends.

Except, I know who my friends are and I have no clue who this woman is.

Well, my new friend "Cheryl", she creeped me out. Legit, she simply creeped me out and I took those pictures and then I reported and I blocked her. But then I ran into Phyllis Anne Warnhoff and it was on. I suddenly wasn't looking at what appeared to be a simple infestation of the usual trolls, these were tweople who'd been around for a little while. Why were they pretending to know me?

Now, Phyllis Anne follows 7,222 people, and it takes a long time to scroll through that many people. But I did it. Her discernment of whom to follow is lacking. She appears to use the auto-follow function. Don't be a Phyllis Anne, if you are using twitter, turn that shit off. Stop reading this right now, and go turn that feature off. You will thank me for it, later.

Well, I scrolled through Phyllis Anne's following. All, 7,222 of them, and I discovered that these are the VERY first accounts that https://twitter.com/@PAWarnhoff followed:

You'll notice that very recognizable green logo. That is a company Sharethis.com and they are a centralized marketing engine, specializing in real time.

So, suddenly, Phyllis isn't exactly Phyllis. She's a marketing company. And what is she marketing? She seems to be marketing the Liberal Party of the USA. And what is Sharethis' participation in this? They are analyzing clickbait. So, I blocked Phyllis and told my friend about her. So either she's a trollbot for the Liberals or she's a trollbot for themselves. Either way, get your own data/voice.

I had no idea what I was looking at, though, so I was glad to have someone to discuss it with. I had just discovered what I call chain bots. PAWarnhoff shows a series of followers who follow whomever they are told to follow, and they follow, and their followers follow and on and on; hence, chain bots.

Interestingly, because I had no idea yet what I was looking at, I was still unsure what I was looking for. All I knew was that I could instantly tell whether a tweeter was a real person or not just by looking at them very closely and I could tell what their agenda was or is, should it have changed.

We old timers have been using https://botsentinel.com to screen out trolls, but these guys were falling lower on the scale than some of our actual friends. So, borderline bots.

So, as I followed from one tweople to the next, I started to see the craziness that we were up against because I stepped up to my eyeballs into what my Poppy would have called a Kraut's nest!

I said to my friend, “they aren't borderline... holy crap this trail is filthy with Saudis and Russians. I'm expecting chinese once I finish the trail chase. I will let you know. It's a lot of scrolling.

And indeed, I got Chinese and Arabic in the followers. Some of the profiles were looking up appeared to be highjacked at a certain point and suddenly became sources for trolls. Others, were straight up trolls from their very creation.

Then I gave my friend the name https://twitter.com/@Eicen098 to look up and it led to the article you will see on this page: http://pepperfire.blogspot.com/2019/04/trollbots-and-nasty-people-on-twitter.html.

So, at first, I was thinking there wasn't much to it, but then I posted that blog and list, and all H, E, double hockey sticks broke loose.

There were only two reactions to my blog post, especially since it followed this tweet series:


I was onto something and I still had no idea what, yet. The first reaction to the blog post was to call me out. Are you sure THIS person should be on it? And they didn't know they were standing up for the kingpin of the trolls. Or, they blew me off.

Little geeky thing about me. I like facts. My good friends know that I like facts. They also know that when I have glitchy things in my existence, I can't sleep. If I weren't so offended by confrontation, I'd be the best investigative journalist on the planet. I love a brilliant puzzle. So, given that I had already posted this, https://twitter.com/Pepperfire/status/1121235931153846273 you know, I was quite positive of my blog and everything in it. So, I was rather surprised at the reactions and where they came from.

Now, when I wrote that blog page, I had gone through several conversations that solidified in my mind that I was onto something. The most important ones this entire week were with my husband and a dear dear friend without whose support, I do believe, I'd have gone into meltdown.

The friend who helped me think through this whole process, was incredulous, shocked stunned and as blown away as I am by what is going on, but there you have it. He saw what I was seeing and helped walk me through to this point in my understanding of what is going on. This whole story and the reason I am writing it down, simply reeks of conspiracy theories and intrigue. Although, short of the two real life investigative journalists to whom this has been handed, coming up with something else, this will end up simply being a really cool blog post about how and why to protect yourself from other people's agendas on Twitter.

The first was a conversation that occurred during and after the posting of my blog.

This was Bernadette. I'd love to tell you who Bernadette is, but I cannot. I don't know Bernadette's real name, although, the woman tweeting as Bernadette, I considered my friend. We had been hanging and chatting about all manner of things for quite a while now. So it really and truly broke my heart when I saw what I saw and that she and her fake sister Mary Mary and Marilyn and Cheryl were all, quite possibly working together, if not actually the SAME PERSON. You ask them their game. I haven't the time to become an investigative journalist AND save the Canadian food chain, which is what I meant to be doing this week.

Anyway this is Bernadette's reaction to my discovering she is a bot...

This conversation played out and, then, Bernadette suddenly disappeared. She had turned off her profile. The profile has since been turned back on. There seems to be a fashion among these bots in that when caught out, they turn off their profiles, create a new one, unfollow the offender who caught them, and then when they think the offender isn't paying attention anymore, they turn their profiles back on. Meanwhile, I was still being oddly excessively followed for the amount of tweeting I was not doing, and this by followers of Bernadettes, who oddly, seemed to like the idea of following everyone with a blue checkmark whom I follow, as well as people who seem to have large numbers of followers. The bots never seemed to glom onto my husband's account until recently. Usually, the followers of mine who follow my husband are sent there by me. These strangers who follow me AND follow my husband were excessively creepy.

Anyway, ss the conversation continued with Bernadette, my friend and I were busy running profiles to see who they were and whom they followed, and also who followed them.

What we found was a trail, relatively easily followed, at least until you hit someone with several thousand or worse several hundred thousand in both their follows and following lists. These are the profiles that I ran into a brick wall with. It takes quite a while to scroll through 7400 followers, now imagine, 74,000 or even 740,000? I simply soft-blocked those and walked away. I did keep a list.

About that time, I started running into more and more of our twiends. They weren't long-time twitter friends, but they had become such over a relatively long period of time, months, if not a year or two.

The second occurred after the blog had been posted for several days and came from the most unexpected of sources and as a result triggered a whole bunch of spidey tinglings that lead me to the point of knowing I had truly stepped into a Krauts' nest and I was in trouble.

and I realized, they are mining us. I still don't know who THEY is, but it was then I knew it was time to call the police.

Only, what do you tell the police when you see your own tweetstream followers and the person you are looking at is not you?

Then I started creating a list, so that I, and my friends, could delete them. Except the more of a list I created, the more of them I saw.

What is scariest is that there are very active, very social, tweeters, whose agendas are not very pretty.

In the last week, here's what I found:

Pro-Saudi bots
Anti-Venezuelan bots
Pro-Palestinian bots
Pro-Conservative bots
Pro-Liberal bots
Pro-Autism bots ← these are particularly weird.
(There does not seem to be an anti-Liberal movement in Canada, just Anti-Trudeau).

I have found bot farms plug back into Nathan Cullen, Julian Fantino, I have found ordinary real people who suddenly become bot farms, I call these “highjacks”, You can see the moment they follow a bot farm, and then their follows become methodical, some seem to follow from the top of the following list to the bottom, others follow bottom to top.
I seem to have identified individuals who are quite human but directly follow bot farms, and vice versa.
Oddly, the LGBTQ seems not to be infiltrated, that's possibly and most likely because one cannot simply fake being part of that community.

The great caveat take away from this entire exercise is that it's VERY easy to see the agenda of the tweeter and when that agenda changes. For dating purposes, one has to scroll through the tweets and see when the tweets changed.

Many of these seem to be either ex-Liberal or ex-Conservative accounts. So, they hide quite effectively.

An example of a highjacked account is quite visible with the account https://twitter.com/@CSUnited2014 The account follows 810 tweeters. If you scroll to the very beginning of them, you discover a Concordia University Student United Account, it is setup to follow the people, places and things someone tweeting CSU would follow, until suddenly, it doesn't anymore. And if you scroll to the beginning of the tweets for the account, you indeed see the tweets of someone who began their twitter career tweeting about things of interest to CSU. Until it doesn't anymore.
And this image shows the moment that CSUnited2014 returns from the dead and suddenly begins tweeting on topic, as if he'd been doing it every day for the last five years.

Many of these highjacks have the good sense to delete previous tweets, and previous followers, but then you see odd occurrences with number of tweets, followers or followings that do NOT correspond with the actual number of tweets, followers or followings their account claims to have.

What is fascinating is that far too many of these highjacks, which aren't obvious have followed my followers in EXACTLY the same order I come up in my own following list. You can see the so not randomness rather quickly when you compare how your own follow list looks compared to the followers you know on someone else's page.

When you repeatedly see this pattern reflected in new follows, it's very difficult to absorb.

So, the question, I don't know the answer to, is whether or not THIS pattern will repeat in new followers. Do others just naturally decide to follow everyone that a certain tweeter has followed, and do they do this often?

I find it reasonable to believe that a new follower will follow the live tweeters with whom I am intereacting, but when they are suddenly following tweeters from my list who have been long asleep or dead, like CSUnited2014, it gets very weird.

It is quite normal that someone is on Twitter with an agenda. It is quite normal for them to set up a twitter account in order to fulfill that agenda. It is quite another thing to change that agenda suddenly midstream.

So, and the ultimate reason I am writing this blog, and sharing all off this information with an investigative journalist or two, should the first want it all for themselves, cause they're my long-time twiend, believe that I have found the way to stop those who would infiltrate the election, from doing so, by filtering them from the rest of the general population, based on these visible patterns.

If not, well, at the very least, those of us who are serious about our Twitterati can continue to do so, vetting those most dangerous to the election. Once upon a time, we told each other that we shouldn't block people whose opinions we didn't want to hear, because then we'd just end up operating in a bubble of things we want to hear.

Well, when we find ourselves in a typically non-partisan swimming pool with one well-known, non-partisan and two obvious partisans, who appear to be trying to get you and your non-partisan friend to duke it out over something trivial, stop a second and take a close look at those folks. Ask yourself, what is their agenda?

Sometimes, you'll see the agenda immediately, political trolls you can take a simple look at their profile...

You're welcome to take a look at mine: @Pepperfire

You can see that my join date is 2008. I am a prolific tweeter. Chatty Cathy, indeed.

Compare it to my friend @AlexBlom a not so prolific tweeter. But a mite more famous and followed than I.

He and I have many things in common, we both like coding and dogs and we both like and use Twitter for our various purposes.

Twitter Profiles

Tina Brooks: @Pepperfire Alex Blom: @AlexBlom

Active tweeter Active Tweeter
# Tweets # Tweets
First Follow:

First Follow:
When most people arrive on Twitter, they are offered the option to follow. MOST lists will begin with their personal friends. Experienced twitter profile creators or headshy people do not do this.

I have edited my followers' list to remove inactive tweeters. I pity the fools should THEY ever show up in my list, I know whom they are. :)

If you scroll up my list, what YOU cannot see is that I follow everyone who follows me. And the reason my list looks the way it looks, is because it is organic. It began organic. It is still organic.

I have other friends who have similar followings, they have locks on their accounts so they can control who sees their tweets and what gets done with them. There is nothing more abusive to those of us with a voice to learn that our voice is being used and abused for an agenda we would never support.
What I don't see on Alex's following list is I don't see my own list looking back at me.

I can grab ANY random tweeter in the “followers you know” list, and they will typically not have a list of tweeters they followed in exactly the same order as mine.
Profile Comparison: Ron Sexsmith

We do not know each other personally, but have been following each other a very long time.

We have 101 common followers.

Profile Comparison: MarilynLouise77

We do not follow each other, but we have 183 followers in common.

Profile Comparison: 7777marilyn7777

We do not follow each other, but we have 30 followers in common
Profile Comparison: Marilyn2359

We follow each other, we have 77 followers in common.


Interestingly, if I bring you full circle to the first crazy trollbot, SHE was also named Marilyn.

So, herein lies the secret to stopping the election interference. Herein lies the ability for a tweeter to eliminate noisy partisans or agendas that are not of interest to us, from our tweetstreams.

Here are the steps to follow to clean up your stream. You will have to take responsibility for the fact that I am about to tell you to delete followers. If you do not feel comfortable deleting someone described in these instructions, by all means, keep them. THESE are general rules that will help you not be a peon for those that would destroy our democracy. Whether you choose to be a peon or not is your business. It's a free country, for now.

I take no responsibility for any followers you delete. It is up to you whether to full block, soft-block or simply unfollow someone, but if they are still following you, they will participate in your tweetstream.

Step 1.

Lock your tweets.

Your profile will look like this to strangers;

Step 2.

If you do not use a paid app to manage your Twitter accounts, you can use https://who.unfollowed.me account Login using twitter to simplify things. You likely won't be able to see much, yet, but come back every now and again depending on how often you receive new followers and you can check them out most easily here, in batches. And if you use who.unfollowed.me, give them some love and follow them on Twitter.

Step 3.

Go through your list of tweople you follow. Delete everyone who has not tweeted in over a year. They're likely never coming back.

Step 3.

Delete everyone who does not have a profile picture, and if you think it's someone you know personally, tell them to get a profile picture or you will delete them. Sometimes it's simply a matter of walking your friend through it. (I mean YOU Gina.)

Step 4.

Delete everyone who has a Name preceded by numbers and followed by numbers, or someone you don't know who has a name that is imediately followed by a series of numbers. Now use your good sense and personal judgement here. Some of our friends were lazy when they set up Twitter and simply used the name Twitter suggested for them. Some have numbers in their names that mean something.

Step 5.

Screen your list for people who follow you, that you do not know, but with whom you have an oddly high number of mutual follows, that shouldn't make sense.

Step 6.

Delete everyone who doesn't follow you back, unless they are someone you want to see the tweets from, for example, I am an @StephenKing fan, he's never going to follow me back, but I want to see his tweets. I kept him.

Step 7.

Look for miners. When the new followers show up you can look to their own latest following to see what's what. If you click on someone in the list of the new follower who looks totally unknown to you, and you find a inordinate number of mutual follows, you have an issue. Especially if said stranger is only following a small number of others themselves.

Step 8.

When you find questionable accounts that are following you, you can soft-block them.

Once you can look at your list and feel fairly comfortable that your tweets are not being used nor fed into the bot farms, short of you agreeing with their agenda, that is, then and only then, should you unlock your tweets.

Using who.unfollowed.me regularly will help keep your stream free and help us keep our streams free as well.

Be aggressive. There is no need to follow anyone, nor is there any need for you to allow them to follow you. And when you find a new one, for heavens sake, name and shame!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Trollbots and Nasty People on Twitter and How to Deal With Them

Rule number one, if they just want to fight with you, it's okay to block them.

Rule number two, just because others don't think you should block anyone because it puts you in an echo chamber, don't trust that the tweeter you feel like eliminating from your stream, is a real human being and not a trollbot. They are tricky to discern. I have discovered what I call troll magnets. These are tweeters whose followers are SPECIFICALLY looking for trolling opportunities to sow discord and infighting. And they don't all speak Russian. Some are already your friends and have been so for a while now, and they are in your stream mining it. And I do not know what I mean by that, but trust that when I look at another tweeter and it tells me Barack Obama follows them too, I don't hesitate to believe they're legit. I don't trust who Trump follows.

So, a few days ago I was tweeting per usual when someone I do not know tweeted to me as if they were a long-time friend, even calling me by my first name.

My long-time twitter peeps don't do that. They call me Peps or Pepper lady or T or sometimes, late for dinner, but they don't tend to call me Tina... not unless they know me in person, anyway.

So, it triggered one of those "this isn't kosher" feelings in me. So, I started by asking, "who are you?" from the twitter account. They didn't reply.

So, while I waited for a response, I started looking at the tweeter to see who they were.

Okay, Liberal leaning, poli tweeter, seems to agree with most of what I have to think about politics, wait a minutes, what's this... they're Anti-Trudeau. Not Anti-Liberal, but Anti-Trudeau, specifically. Odd. Must be an indigenous person... nope. Must be NDP, nope. They seem to be all over the place politically. Until suddenly Anti-Trudeau.

Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser.

So then I looked at who they followed. I got an interesting mix of what appeared to be the sort of a account someone with an agenda sets up. You know what I mean?

Let me explain. When you open a new Twitter account, the first thing Twitter suggests is reading your contacts list to add your friends who are already on Twitter. So, unless you are personal friends with the Pope or Vladimir Putin, THEY should not be the first persons on your list of whom you followed. It could happen, but I doubt it. Journalists' lists look like they're researching the people they follow: they'll follow other news outlets, other journalists, other writers, people in the field they are researching, etc. It's easy to see where they are going, what they are looking for. Social Media Marketers, similar thing, they won't lead with the personal accounts, they'll lead with whom they are working for on that account and all the tweeters their customer should follow. Such accounts will look a lot like Peppermaster's account does. It includes me, and all sorts of chiliheads and food accounts; it's obviously an account that was set up by a manager. Mine includes real people and looks like a newbie created it by toggling the "find my friends" switch.

Theirs just looked odd. The first site it followed was one of those 700K following/732K followers accounts that posts nothing but kittens and feel good memes and after that it seemed to have no rhyme nor reason to who or what it followed. As if it was random. Their stream included no conversations, no participation, just make you happy memes. Now, I'm not about to go back to the beginning by scrolling through 732K followers, fuggeddabouddit.

That wasn't going to work, and so, I needed another way to determine whom this now even weirder weird tweeter was. I love a good puzzle.

So, then I ran the weird tweeter's followers list. Now, think about this for a second, you follow someone, they follow you back, generally, so who are YOUR first followbacks going to be? Your friends, your fam, your co-workers, the people you email... Unless you set up using an agenda, in which case it will be the target of your agenda. And if they are you must be someone important to that person. So, usually the folks who follow you back are friends, family, coworkers, or real people, at least. In this case, it targeted a woman whom I had just blocked for being trollish. Oh... how odd.

One of the interesting things about twitter is that even if you block someone they are never really blocked. They just have a tombstone telling you that you've blocked them and asks you if you really want to see their tweets. This ceases to be a possibility if they have blocked YOU, though.

So, I clicked through to the previously blocked woman's profile and started to look at HER follows and sure enough, she targeted the troll farm and several other troll farms. The number of Saudi accounts was fascinating.

So, following these trails, from one "fake tweeter" to the next, I have compiled this list of FAKE ACCOUNTS. I have received notifications back from Twitter on enough of them that says they are real, but their follow/following trails say quite differently.

Oh! And... I should warn you, there is a third type of account that is fascinating to find.

These accounts will have been created years ago, have few follows/following but will suddenly be prolific tweeters. They have very normal looking setups and they have very normal looking tweets... until they don't. You can actually see when a tweeter has flipped from being themselves to being a troll usually because they suddenly follow Trudeau. I'm sure those working to infiltrate the US elections will suddenly follow the lead Democratic candidate, but I digress. In this case, right after the key politician is followed so are the people who will help the troll disseminate the misinformation and sow the discord they are there to sow.

I will add to this list regularly, and I will date the additions as I add them. If you can convince me that a name on this list does not deserve to be here, I will remove it. Simply leave a message in the comments.

I wish you peace in your Twitter experience. With a little critical thinking and keen discernment, we will be able to recreate the Twitter we all loved before the bots and trolls showed up.



Confirmed Block list: 4-24-2019 ===========


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Life as an Autistic Person Confounds Me and it is Awesome!

Life with autism confounds me, or I should say it used to until I learned I was autistic and suddenly life made sense.

When I was little people were the most confounding creatures. I found my mother illogical and weird, and she found me cold and distant; occasionally mean. I didn't know I was autistic then. I was just me.

When I was little, everything seemed to be as big as the universe. Nothing was ever a little deal. I've since learned that I have hypersensitivity. Things don't just seem a bigger deal to me. They are a bigger deal. But when I was little, everyone just thought I was melodramatic. So it confounded me.

My mom is a pretty good cook. It's a wonder that she has no idea how nice she was to me considering I had no idea why I didn't like food then, either. Sometimes the way food felt in my mouth bothered me. I like peas, but they explode in my mouth, so I don't like peas. I like potatoes, but everytime I'd ever eaten them, they'd come right back up. So food confounded me.

When I was little, little pictures were seen and not heard, so I didn't have privilege of the exposure to adult interactions that little kids get today. The only reason I got to hang around with the adults was because I was enormously shy. I wasn't so shy, I was petrified of children, they were mean, they were loud, and they were violent. So even though there were gads of kids to play with, I far rather'd hang with my Dad. He understood me while the kids confounded me.

When I was little I hated the feeling of clothes touching me. I couldn't stand the tags rubbing against my neck. I got rashes where the clothes touched me and I was constantly covered in rashes. When I was little, I was told, it's soft, it's nice, when I found it picky and itchy. So, clothes confounded me.

Ultimately, I think in being an undiagnosed Aspie, I got lucky. My life unfolded in such a way as I had to learn how to deal with it, because I didn't have any reason to not. I didn't have the luxury of explaining all my little idiosynchracies away as Aspergers Syndrome.

So, I'm going to be 50 on my birthday in December.

Life continues to this day to confound me.

So, here's the bad news.

None of these issues have gone away. I'm just as confounded on a daily basis as I was when I was a child.

The difference now is that I have a diagnosis that explains why I have always felt like I am different...

I am different.

And contrary to what some autism groups suggest, that is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

In fact, once I'd figured out how to deal with and alleviate these difficulties in my life, I grew up to be a pretty cool person because I'm different.

My parents looked for the special in me and focused on what I was capable of doing, trying never to compare me to other children. So, they didn't really look at my odd milestones and see them as setbacks or savantism, they just saw these wonders of their baby girl growing.

They taught me that I am not my challenges, they are simply issues I have to deal with. I'll never outgrow these challenges, but as I get older, I continually learn new coping skills and mechanisms that make my autism less stressful and confounding.

I'm lucky, most days, I'm pretty calm and function pretty well. But sometimes I can't function well at all. So my life is arranged in such a way as to have the supports I require when I require them. When I can't function... the ball gets picked up and sorted on my behalf until I'm back functioning again. Usually, I'm out for a day maybe two at worst.

And then I pull it back together and life is totally awesome. Until the next challenge hits, like the shingles outbreak that I'm about to endure for the third time in the last five years. Or the illness I will have to deal with tomorrow morning because I had conventionally grown vegetables for dinner. Or because my shirt has gotten so annoying that I've gotten trapped in it trying to get it off. I like to joke that if I bump into three walls before I get out of my bedroom in the morning, I go back to bed.

Being autistic isn't easy somedays, but any day, it's me, and embracing it is a lot better for my sanity than fighting it. So, on bad days, life will most assuredly continue to confound me. On good days, life is awesome.

This blog was written for Autistics Speaking Day 2015.

To raise Autism awareness and Acceptance, and battle negative stereotypes about Autism. To advocate for the inclusion of Autistic people in the community. To offer a forum to broadcast our stories and thoughts, and to help the messages of Autistic people and non-Austistic allies reach as many people as possible.

I invite you to click here to read some of the other blogs that were written in honour of this day.

We share these words so you can know how absolutely awesome people with Autism are, regardless of our challenges.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Boycott Autism Speaks Flashblog

I'm autistic. I'll be 50 on my birthday.

Did you know that there are adult autistics?

We don't outgrow it.

It's a lifelong neurological condition we cannot simply remove.

Autism Speaks' mission is to change my future.

They are dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and CURE for autism;


They don't know that the best parts of me are BECAUSE I'm autistic.

They don't care to listen. They claim that it's "time to listen",


They do not wish to listen to Autistic voices.

The problem with finding the missing pieces of the puzzle is that you're not actually using the EXISTING PIECES to solve it.

Talk to us.

Ask an autistic person what it is like to BE autistic.

Ask the autistic person what THEY need.

Stop giving donations to Autism Speaks and put your money where people will actually LISTEN!

Boycott Autism Speaks

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Readers' Studio 2015 Swag

I was a day late to the Studio and two late for the Psych conference but I lapped up what I managed to attend! OMG... life changing.

This is me at RS 2015 with Donnaleigh de laRose.

Carrie Paris; you are my new Goddess a million blessings on your house for the love and healing you shall encourage on my pathway.

Theresa Reid, your encouragement, your faith and assurance that I would get to the conference! It was worth the Cobalt Blue... what a gift!

Dan Pelletier, as always for your friendship and your encouragement along my pathway.

Every heart I touched, every heart that touched mine. I thank you and bless you everyone! See you all next year.

Tarot Swag from RS 2015

See you next year! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The King's Journey Tarot -- Bordered Edition - A review

I got an email from my firned Christine Aguiar who is working with James Battersby on the highly anticipated Cultural Revolution Tarot, asking me if I was up for doing a review of James' latest deck. The King's Journey Tarot - Bordered Edition that she was working on.

Knowing how amazing the original deck was, of course I said, yes, so here is the review.

Now some of you may be thinking, "HEY! I have that deck in my collection!"... and you'd be mostly right. The original King's Journey Tarot was published in 2010 by my friends, Chanel Bayless and James Battersby. As you can see, the cards had no borders or numbers and the reader was left to decipher the card by the image. A stunning deck, but many young readers find it difficult to connect with.

James says that he'd always wanted the borders and numbers, especially since he is an artist first and comes to the tarot by way of his art.

This new release is THAT desire come to fruition.

Chanel declined participating in this deck revival as she walks a different pathway, so James called on Tarotist, Christine Aguiar to help him to stay true to the card meanings.

Well, yesterday I opened the deck. It came wrapped in printed newspaper that I had to take great care not to rip. And in a purple and silver tulle drawstring bag.

My first thought as I fanned the deck? What beautiful colours.

The Borders really stand out and lineate the cards. James has inked beautiful Celtic designs all the way around the cards that frame the images beautifully while creating a frame under which the names of the cards have been painted on scrolls.

He's suitably chosen colours to match the images; green for Coins, blue for cups, yellow for swords and pink for wands and lavender for the Major Arcana.

If you are an owner of the original deck, the first thing you notice is the minimization of the beautiful images that James painted. The artwork is absolutely stunning. I understand why Chanel chose him to work with originally.

This deck is less shocking in its presentation, which, in my mind, is going to make it far easier to be used by tarotists as their working deck.

Per my usual procedure for getting to know a deck, my first action is to have a conversation with the deck to see how well it thinks it can read for me.

Decks never lie, and it doesn't matter how well or how poorly they are painted.

Well, this deck responded to my request for introduction with the Hierophant.

Which is to say, I will be your teacher.

At first, I thought it was a pretty arrogant response for a deck to take with me, but, the voices I hear when I read are so varied, I didn't think much of it... yet.

Having had a little chat with the deck, I will do a series of cold readings for people. Usually, I'll do them on one of my tarot groups where I am exposed to other readers, but this time, decided that I wanted to show off my "talent" to a group of friends who live in my area but aren't familiar with my reading ability.

So, I offered a series where I would do a Tarot Twreading for whoever in that group wants one.

I got about 20 takers.

The most impressive image of the day was when the Seven of Swords presented itself in a reading to represent a group of bikers. The querant tells me that the young woman peeking out from behind the tree is VERY reminiscent of her. She showed me a photo, and so it is.

Needless to say, the cards sang to me, they gave me information and images that I have yet to truly experience with any previous deck. My heavens this deck is lovely to talk with. I like it, like it, like it.

The learning curve for a deck is often tricky for tarot readers as the tarot images are sometimes vivid and clear and other times obscure and difficult.

These images are anything BUT obscure. Testament to its beginnings with Chanel's knowlege and expertise of the tarot and James skill as an artist, these images are quite expressive.

Now, I'm an intuitive reader and I only really know the "book meanings" of the Tarot because most artists paint them. In this case, the paint is true (at least for the cards I've read with so far). And since my readings don't care if I understand Tarot or not, the images in these cards work very, very well with my intuition and as an extension, my spirit guide, Melody.

I invite you to read this deck. I hope you find it as warm, friendly and talkative I have. And if not, it is a beautiful addition to your collection.

Thanks to Christine and James for gifting me this beautiful voice. I truly look forward to offering it as one of my working decks.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

iChing Dead Moon a Tarot review and an iChing lesson.

When I first started reading the Lo Scarabeo iChing Dead Moon cards, I was doing it backwards. I was reading the tarot and expecting the iChing to fall into place. It wasn't working. Then I thought, try it the other way around.

When I was a teenager, I'd learned the iChing using pennies I carried around in a native medicine bag, so, this should be a piece of cake, right?

Each of the iching symbols represents a specific energy. They are done in pairs, because the interactions between the two create an even more intricate depiction of the energy of the card. When you read them as tarot style cards, the images on the card SHOULD add to the "human" understanding of the energy; If the energy depicted feels different from the energy of the glyph, then it's not going to work very well. So far they are playing nice. Then energy flows very well if you can see/feel it in the iChing.

I didn't understand that until I did my first iChing Dead Moon reading; even though I'd used it all those years.

Ambitious, I have to relearn the iching meanings, differently. This could be a brilliant adventure. I blame Dan Pelletier.

There are eight trigrams only. But each trigram is coupled with another to create the iChing's 64 tiles.

Once you have a feeling for the iching, then the detail in the tarot card comes to life.

I'm enjoying this course. I look forward to being able to use this deck as my working deck.

Some iChing links: http://www.taopage.org/oracle.html http://www.ichingonline.net/about.php

If you learn both... it's more in keeping with the original creation. (IMNHO).