Twitter Abuse Blocklist

Archived here:

This began as an experiment to see how blocking the follow list of a known racist troll would affect their ability to amplify their attacks out to their wider network.

The user in question (account now suspended) was @MaorisN.

After scraping the Twitter IDs of the followers list, these accounts were first vetted manually to make sure that there were no unintended blocks. Accounts were selected that were most certainly troll or sock accounts. This was achieved by some analytics using the Twitter API.

Other accounts were also analysed and common follower accounts were extracted however not all common followers were included in the final list. For example hundreds of accounts were NZ farmers, many indicating they were members of Federated Farmers, some accounts were Federated Farmers Comms Team people themselves. Whilst this appears to be an indicator that the Fed Farmers communications team at the very least were embarking on attack campaigns on Twitter, these farmers accounts however were at least legitimate Twitter accounts and not their *sock* accounts.

The final list resulting in about 190 accounts in total.

These were presented in two methods for users to use to block these accounts. Two methods were either the importing of a CSV file into the Twitter blocklist, or the use of BlockTogether

The reason for the two methods was to offer a way of double checking user ids with the user accounts, as well as a quicker way for users to import blocks using BlockTogether – for those that do not mind using a 3rd party service to manage their block lists.

The end result was quite hard to gauge but feedback was very positive with many saying that attacks ended shortly after importing the block list.

Another interesting but not necessarily related issue is that about half of the block list accounts are now suspended. That may or may not be a result of this experiment, but it however shows that at the very least, 50% or so of those on the block list were using their sock accounts in a way that broke Twitter TOS.

The list is now removed, but BlockTogether link is still being maintained. In it are the remaining accounts that are still active.

Footnote: If you feel you are being hard done by being on this block list, use the comments function below to state your case.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *