I get bored at work a lot. It’s not work’s fault. I’m just temping between student teaching and what is now clearly going to be substituting work, and I work with large sums of money. Yeah, sure, it’s just data entry, but the data I enter is often more money than I will get paid for the entire summer. I'm terrified of those big numbers and will only do the work I am 100% sure won't end up getting a whole branch bankrupt, which leaves me not doing a lot, often.
Anyhoo, I found myself on Twitter recently during a particularly slow day. Someone had posted an article where they compiled the original version of oft-stolen tweets, found here. They provided a link to the search functions that would reveal copy cats. I scrolled through, trying to find my ol’ nemeses “parody” accounts. Instead what I found was a world that threatens to consume my very spirit.
I found this man. This “man”. And because I was bored at work, I went scrolling to see what an account who steals the same joke over a dozen times IN THE SAME DAY had in his profile. Ove Hansen Terp, who does not return any major Google results beyond his own Twitter page, which has almost ten thousand followers. He reposted this joke originally by the very funny Cohen Is a Ghost I don't know how many times. All unique posts, by the way.
|Created with https://gyazo.com/ which is super cool.|
He has 72.7k tweets. His account has been active since February 2013. That means if we assume the average February 15th, the account has existed for 901 days. This is an average of 80.7 tweets per day, or 3.36 per hour. Ever had a friend livetweet something too quickly for your liking? Imagine having someone tweet every twenty minutes for two years.
Darren Rovell, who made a career of Twitter and general douchebaggery, tweets at a speed of around half the speed, 40.1. This is no surprise, seeing as even Darren Rovell is technically a human that needs to eat and sleep. So, what is clearly a tweetbot tweets twice as fast as a professional human Twitterer.
Twitter estimated that around 5% of their accounts are fake from their IPO filing. There are around 550 million Twitter accounts that have ever sent a tweet, or 64% of total accounts. Most accounts have only 304 tweets.
This spambot has tweeted 72.7 thousand times? That’s two hundred and thirty nine times the amount of the “average” Twitter user. Two hundred and thirty nine times. It would take you around 8 months of tweeting an average person’s entire archive every single day to catch up. But, of course, since this Twitter bot posts 80.7 tweets per day, it would take even longer than that. Like a compound interest of stolen jokes and inane, repeated quotes.
I counted a single day today. I tallied ten tweets at a time (alliteration!) and then how many times I counted a full ten. On July 24th, Ove Hansen Terp sent 259 tweets. Inside that one day, I counted at least twenty repeated tweets, and I wasn’t even looking for them specifically. Out of all 259 tweets, how many had responses of any kind?
Four tweets. 255 posts didn’t even have a reply to them. Most only had a favorite, Twitter’s version of a “like” button. I have a couple questions about this.
What is this account for? Obviously, spamware and padding follower counts, since companies exist in this world that create fake Twitter profiles in order for megalomaniacs to purchase a larger fanbase, which is incredibly insane in and of itself.
But why make them tweet? Why not just have it put out a different verse of the Bible every day? Which, come on, would make a great Twitterbot that would get tons of followers. Why steal jokes, and badly at that? Who is reading them that you think “ooh, my algorithm needs some witty repartee!”
We’ll say an average Twitter user has 304 tweets, and these spam bots have what I’m going to (conservatively, I feel) estimate at 6k tweets. Full disclosure: this isn’t journalism, I pulled that number out of my butt. With 200 million active accounts, that means that there are 62 billion “real” tweets, which is huge. Most of those are stolen, or inane, or anything but good tweets. According to my estimated number of 6k tweets per fake user, they’ve created 64.5 billion tweets.
(and a half)
For no one. No one is creating them, and no real person is reading it. Twitterbots follow each other. It’s just 20 million parrots screaming George Carlin routines at each other. A miles-long aviary of parrots repeating sounds only we know are speech and fumbling with attempts at appearing sentient. Talking for the benefit of no one, repeating jokes three or four times a day to no laughs, sharing misspelled quotes and pictures of celebrities without attribution for digital eyes with no recognition. I can get over that. Let a literal majority of tweets be created for filler, like packing peanuts. If it keeps our fragile package of 140 character hilarity alive, sure. Robots follow each other and strive to entertain their humorless selves, in their own little electronic corner. Life goes on.
I would let it go. Except for those four favorites. Four favorites. Four times on July 24th, someone or something saw a Tweet that Ove Hansen Terp made and decided it spoke to them in some way. What if those favorites are real? What if those favorites were real people.
Where are you, those people? Why do you follow an account that would clog up an iPhone’s Twitter page every half hour of every hour of every day? What about the phrase
I'd rather look back in my past and sa´´I can't Belive I did that´´ instead of saying ´´ I wish I would have done that´´
…inspired some sort of positive reaction in you? Who are you? Who hurt you? What are your goals in life? What guttural noise escapes your throat as you sacrifice another victim to the Old Gods, thirsty and remote?
This account is a pile of mud slowly scraping itself into a rude caricature of LOLSORELATABLE behind a decomposing mask made of a bald man in too-big sunglasses, and you approved of it.
You, out there, the four people who favorited that tweet, approved of the singularity.
Of our getting replaced by copied and pasted yet somehow mistyped tweets.
You clapped for the machine that makes the machine that cleans the machine that makes Snuggies at an open mic, and went to the bathroom when humans with insight and creativity took the stage.
You approved Ole Hansen Terp, the drops of piss that are slowly extinguishing the creative spark that Twitter was supposed to foster.
We’re drowning in that piss, and you’re hoping there will be a swim-up bar.
Anyway, hire me as a teacher. I use math in my daily life, obviously.