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.
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:
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.