Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #SaturdayShenanigans

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We started looking at who the accounts in the astroturf network documented in this thread from Feb 9th follow, and discovered a whole bunch more accounts that we believe to be part of the network. #SaturdayShenaniGANs

cc: @ZellaQuixote
We found 64848 accounts that we believe to be part of the network (although we may still have missed some). With rare exceptions, they have few tweets and follow far more accounts than they have followers. They're mostly older accounts, almost all created 2018 or earlier.
Who do the accounts in this network follow? It's an eclectic mix that includes government officials from multiple countries, tech entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency accounts, and a "coronavirus news" account, among others.
Read 11 tweets
We've seen some glitchy GAN-generated images used as Twitter profile pics before, but @jtatejtate1 kinda takes the cake with the utterly surreal "clothing" and "hat". #SaturdayShenanigans

cc: @ZellaQuixote
Here's a video showing @jtatejtate1's profile pic blended with a bunch of other GAN-generated images. The major facial features (eyes, nose, and mouth) are in the same location on each image.
(more on GAN-generated face pics and the usage thereof on Twitter accounts)
Read 11 tweets
OMG! So Important For BITCOIN! Check out all these bots with GAN-generated profile pics tweeting links to some random cryptocurrency website! #SaturdayShenaniGANs #ThisPersonDoesNotExistInFactNoneOfThesePeopleExistDotCom

cc: @ZellaQuixote
We found a total of 28 accounts with GAN-generated profile pics linking to ethereumcryptocurrency(dot)com. All were created in September or October 2020, and all tweet exclusively via automation service dlvr(dot)it.
As is the case with all face pics generated by StyleGAN (the neural network used by thispersondoesnotexist(dot)com and similar tools), the major facial features (particularly eyes) are in the same position on the profile pic of each account in this botnet.
Read 6 tweets
Move over, thispersondoesnotexist(dot)com, because deepfake face pics are so 2019. The good folks over on 4chan have made us aware of thiswaifudoesnotexist(dot)net, a site that serves up GAN-generated anime pics. #SaturdayShenaniGANs #ASeriesOfUn4chanateEvents.

cc: @ZellaQuixote
The thiswaifudoesnotexist(dot)net website offers the real anime images used to train the GAN for download (we downloaded via Tor because opsec). We used this along with a set of images it produced to come up with a simple technique for detecting the GAN-generated anime pics.
The GAN-generated anime pics contain a variety of anomalies that aren't present in most of the real ones, but the most obvious (and the one we focused on) is the presence of blotches/very slight random variance in color in areas that would be solid colors on real anime pics.
Read 7 tweets
What's up with all these accounts with AI-generated profile pics linking the same article on cointelegraph(dot)com at the same time using the same hashtags? #SaturdayShenaniGANs

cc: @ZellaQuixote
We found a total of 47 accounts spamming links to cointelegraph(dot)com via automation service dlvr(dot)it, all created in September or October 2020. The volume of this botnet has increased as more accounts were added.
The cointelegraph(dot)com website promoted by this botnet is a cryptocurrency "news" site registered in the Cayman Islands, according to WHOIS records. Almost all of this botnet's tweets (1222 of 1295, 94.3%) contain links to this website.
Read 5 tweets
Twitter bot/sock networks with GAN-generated profile pics seem be increasingly common these days. We took a look at a newly-hatched retweet network that uses these digital fabrications. #SaturdayShenaniGANs

cc: @ZellaQuixote
This network consists of 21 accounts, all created on August 1st, 2nd, or 14th 2020, and all of which have GAN-generated female face pics. (The networks we've previously seen using AI face pics have generally been mixed-gender.)
The structure of the network is interesting: there are two primary accounts (@nataargazka and @Galina85390771), both of which are followed by the other 19 members of the network (none of which follow each other).
Read 6 tweets
In a fascinating coincidence, @Exposer (permanent ID 18934770), a 2009-era account being sold for $200, has five followers that look very similar to each other, also created in 2009. Can we find the rest of the network? #SaturdayShenanigans

cc: @ZellaQuixote ImageImage
We began by filtering all accounts with 2009 creation dates to those meeting the following criteria:

• default profile pic
• name ends in 3 digits
• < 10 tweets
• following 100+ accounts
• following at least 5 times as many accounts as followed by Image
Next, we downloaded tweets from the accounts in question and removed likely false positives, leaving us with 5295 accounts that we believe to be part of the network. All were created in late 2009, mostly in batches, and posted what few tweets they have via "Twitter Web Client". ImageImageImageImage
Read 6 tweets
We ran across a genre of accounts that sell access to proxy servers of dubious provenance. Some of them have decent-sized followings, so let's see what there is to see. #SaturdayShenanigans

cc: @ZellaQuixote
We looked at the followers of several of the proxy-hawking accounts and found a very similar-looking anomaly in four of them: @BlankProxies, @SlashProxies, @RedDirtProxies, and @UnknownProxies were all followed en masse in 2020 by a group of accounts created in 2012 and 2013.
These followers are from a network of 625 accounts created between 1/1/2012 and 1/1/2014 that were mostly dormant between 2014 and 2020. Since reactivating, all tweet exclusively via Mobile Web (M2). Many of their userpics are used by more than one account.
Read 6 tweets
Does the amount of money offered or the deadline to retweet affect (or at least correlate with) the amount of engagement these "$X to someone who retweets this within the next <timespan>" giveaway tweets? #SaturdayShenanigans

cc: @ZellaQuixote
@ZellaQuixote We downloaded original tweets (non-retweets) containing "to someone who retweets this within the next", yielding 1062 tweets from 353 accounts. Almost all the activity is recent - June 2019 or later.
@ZellaQuixote Next, we parsed the various gift amounts being offered, excluding tweets offering something other than money or with ambiguous amounts. $5, $20, $50, and $100 are the prizes most frequently offered; €1,000,000,000 is presumably a joke.
Read 8 tweets

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