Further Analysis Of The Finnish Themed Twitter Botnet

In a blog post I published yesterday, I detailed the methodology I have been using to discover “Finnish themed” Twitter accounts that are most likely being programmatically created. In my previous post, I called them “bots”, but for the sake of clarity, let’s refer to them as “suspicious accounts”.

These suspicious accounts all follow a subset of recommended profiles presented to new Twitter users. In many cases, these automatically created Twitter accounts follow exactly 21 users. The reason I pursued this line of research was because it was similar to a phenomenon I’d seen happening in the US earlier last year. Check this post for more details about that case.

In an attempt to estimate the number of accounts created by the automated process described in my previous post, I ran the same analysis tool against a list of 114 Twitter profiles recommended to new Finnish users. Here is the list.

juhasipila
TuomasEnbuske
alexstubb
hsfi
mikko
rikurantala
yleuutiset
jatkoaika
smliiga
Valavuori
SarasvuoJari
niinisto
iltasanomat
Tami2605
KauppalehtiFi
talouselama
TeemuSel8nne
nokia
HeikelaJussi
hjallisharkimo
Linnanahde
tapio_suominen
vrantanen
meteorologit
tikitalk10
yleurheilu
JaajoLinnonmaa
hirviniemi
pvesterbacka
taloussanomat
TuomasKyr
MTVUutiset
Haavisto
SuomenKuvalehti
MikaelJungner
paavoarhinmaki
KajKunnas
SamiHedberg
VilleNiinisto
HenkkaHypponen
SaskaSaarikoski
jhiitela
Finnair
TarjaHalonen
leijonat
JollaHQ
filsdeproust
makinenantti
lottabacklund
jyrkikasvi
JethroRostedt
Ulkoministerio
valtioneuvosto
Yleisradio
annaperho
liandersson
pekkasauri
neiltyson
villetolvanen
akiriihilahti
TampereenPoika
madventures
Vapaavuori
jkekalainen
AppelsinUlla
pakalupapito
rakelliekki
kyleturris
tanelitikka
SlushHQ
arcticstartup
lindaliukas
goodnewsfinland
docventures
jasondemers5
Retee27
H_Kovalainen
ipaananen
FrenzziiiBull
ylenews
digitoday
jraitamaa
marmai
MikaVayrynen
LKomarov
ovi8
paulavesala
OsmoSoininvaara
juuuso
JaanaPelkonen
saaraaalto
yletiede
TimoHaapala
Huuhkajat
ErvastiPekka
JussiPullinen
rsiilasmaa
moia
Palloliitto
teroterotero
ARaanta31
kirsipiha
JPohjanpalo
startupsauna
aaltoes
Villebla
MariaVeitola
merjaya
MikiKuusi
MTVSportfi
EHaula
svuorikoski
andrewickstroem
kokoomus

For each account, my script saved a list of accounts suspected of being automatically created. After completing the analysis of these 114 accounts, I iterated through all collected lists in order to identify all unique account names across those lists.

Across the 114 recommended Twitter profiles, my analysis identified 5631 unique accounts. Here are the (first twenty) age ranges of the most recently created accounts:

All age ranges

Age ranges of all suspicious Twitter accounts identified by my script

It has been suggested (link in Finnish) that these accounts appeared when a popular game, Growtopia, asked its players to follow their Twitter account after a game outage, and those new accounts started following recommended Twitter profiles (including those of Haavisto and Niinistö). In order to check if this was the case, I collected a list of accounts following @growtopiagame, and checked for accounts that appear on both that list, and the list of suspicious accounts collected in my previous step. That number was 3. This likely indicates that the accounts my analysis identified aren’t players of Growtopia.



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