The Plight Of The Twitter Bot

bot

The Plight Of The Twitter Bot

Writing has taken me on a fantastic journey and one of those places it Twitter. There I can choose a group of like-minded writerly people to talk with and share ideas. The #writingcommunity is full of wonderful people to hang out with online.

But there are always the negatives, and while I don’t dwell on negative, this is a subject worth discussing. They are the fake twitter accounts of scammers, usually initiated by bot programs. So I’m going to touch on some of what a Twitter Bot is and what to do about them.

What is a twitter bot?

People will use fake twitter accounts and programs to ‘follow’ unsuspecting people on twitter. Once they are followed back they will either initiate a conversation by DM (Direct Message) or by tweets.

What do they do?

They will tweet asking you to contact them or send them a DM or even send other information like emails. They may even tweet you a link to follow.

If they DM they might do the above or try to use conversation to lure you into a sense of ‘friendship’ or ‘romance’ or ‘pity.’

DM conversations might be with a human or with a very convincing AI program that will continuously leed you until you give them the information they want.

What do they want?

Money and information. They will offer prizes, rewards, reimbursements, winnings or shared winnings, and even inheritance.

Simply put, nobody gives money away for nothing. Usually, it’s… send me $$ so I can send you more $$$$ back. They will never send you money.

If they’re after information it is possible it is for identity theft or to hack your computer or bank accounts.

Bots are not harmless. They use tactics to prey on people who are unable by mental or emotional strength, awareness, or health to turn away.

What can I do about them?

Block. Or, block and report as a fake account, spammer or someone sending harmful links. Just blocking doesn’t stop that account. Some would argue that reporting them doesn’t do any good, they have hundreds of accounts and can just create more. That is true, however, I personally feel that if I spot a bot/spammer account and I’m able to report that account then perhaps it saves someone who isn’t able to see the trap from becoming a victim. I’ll never know, but that’s fine.

What does a bot account look like? How do I know it’s a bot or scammer?

There are a few things to look for. First, are insane typo’s in the user profile.

For example, today’s lovely bot had a funny one that inspired today’s word prompt and this post. “Because I’m handsome kind ..gentle… and plight.” I know the user meant polite, but… since I mostly follow writers, readers, and artists, they’d know the difference. Second, is the lock symbol beside the name. That could mean they are a bot/scammer or someone who is careful about who they follow. So I’ll look at their profile.

Image

The next thing I look at is the Following Vs. Followers numbers. If there is a larger following by a significant amount respectively, it’s likely a bot. (The opposite is usually someone famous or an account that doesn’t follow but has followers)

Now, a lot of people sign up for twitter not knowing a thing about bots and scammers. Twitter automatically generates a twitter handle with a string of numbers. Bot/scammers rarely change this info. Humans do. Now some people do keep the numbers, which is why checking their profile and tweet activity is a good idea before following back.

The photos used are often a dead give away. They are usually stolen from other accounts, people or stock photos. Sometimes they match sometimes they don’t. After a while, you get used to seeing the same stolen images for different accounts and don’t need to even check a profile to know it’s a bot.

The name can often be the top clue. Keanu Reeves or any prince of any country are not likely following you. Sorry. If they are famous or in a corporate position of power, ie Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, they’re not real either.

111keanu

The Sheryl Sandberg account is a classic, money scam. Note the lock symbol, ZERO Tweets, the long string of numbers after the name and the much higher following number vs. followers.

1111sherylsandberg

Checking their tweets and tweets&replies is a good way to see if they are real or not. Often with a scammer or bot, they will have the same message. “Thank you @name for following me” Or something like that. Or “Hello dear,” “Please DM me” or “How are you?” It will be very obvious because it will be repeated in their tweets or replies.

Sometimes they have no tweets or replies but have been up for months… Very likely a bot.

Still not sure a bot has asked to be followed?

There are some things to do to clarify.

  1. Google their twitter handle.
  2. Reverse search their profile picture (It will often be listed as used by scammers)
  3. Follow back and see if they INSTANT tweet or DM you. At this point, they make it clear by the ‘probing’ questions or the message is slightly-to-extraordinarily creepy.

What to do if a scammer or bot sends you a DM or Tweet?

You have options.

  1. Don’t respond and instant report then block.
  2. Respond but don’t give them any information.
  3. Fish for clues that pin them as a bot and report it. (In a DM you can report the message.) I have done this and even given them my “Contact” information. By that I gave them the contact email and name of the police internet fraud department. (Funny story because they contacted the police several times asking for my bank information.)
  4. Ignore them. (I tend to do this)

Once you know it’s a bot or you are sure, report to twitter then block them.

So how do bots/scammers have so many followers?

A lot of people (including myself) have or will follow a bot. Sometimes their profiles are convincing, sometimes I click, follow by mistake. Some people will follow any and every person that follows them for numbers.

I do have a number of bots following me(Because twitter needs a better way for us to make them not follow.) I do my best not to follow them back and I report the ones I notice and have time to look into. Usually, I’ll report and block the more tricky scammers, the ones that aren’t obvious bots.

These are just some ways to identify a fake, bot, scammer or spam account. There are other tell-tale signs. If you see one and have the time, report them then block.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

Happy writing and twittering.
-Sheryl

Today’s daily prompt is Plight
chf dwp nov banner

Switch it up, and swap it out.

“If you don’t read it, you will never know how it all begins and how it ends. Not to mention all the good stuff in the middle.” -SLM

I have been talking a lot about emotions and making people feel them in my writing. People run on emotions so putting them in writing is important as long as it doesn’t become eye rolling melodramatic. I read a book recently that made me bawl my eyes out. The kicker is that the story that made me so upset wasn’t even about the main characters. It was a side story of characters not even active in the book. Awesome.

Recently a friend told me she became emotional and teary at a scene in my book she is proofing. I told her that was a huge complement. Am I sorry she cried? No, because eliciting emotions is what I strive for.

Sometimes the obvious isn’t, just as the subtle can be blatant. Even if I know what is coming, maybe I don’t. I have had moments when I’m writing when all of a sudden I look at the screen and I think, holy that would be crazier if… And then I change it up. Sometimes it’s a character swap, something designed for someone would be more impactful for another. Other times it’s a scene change. The library was the scenario but I swap it out for a dog treat bakery. If it can lead to better conversation or something funny, I tend to lean to the unusual.

This example is not from my book, but from a collection of bits and pieces for another.

Side by side, Yava and Theo lie facing each other, the melodious sound of Mary Lou Williams softly filling the small room. It has been a day since Yava last spoke; too weak for words.
“They say my love, that your entire life flashes before your eyes.” Theo brushed a stray wisp of white hair from her cheek. “The days of youth, the pesky teens, dancing the night away, your first kiss, your first love.”
The corner of Yava’s mouth curled and relaxed.
Theo sighed softly. “Ah the wedding, making love, all those crazy kids. The fights and make up sex. The cool nights and days in the sun. Our kids growing up, moving out and getting married. All the wee grandbabies now grown. Some with their own tots.”
Tears pooled in her eyes and her lips pressed tightly together.
“Oh my love, my Yava, we have lived, truly lived have we not?”
“Yes Theo darling.” She let her unchecked tears fall to the pillow. “No life has been filled as much as ours.” She rubbed her thumb over his fingers clasped in her hand.
A deep long exhale, the last blink of those sky-blue eyes etched in her mind as he slipped from his.

Originally, Yarva was the one to pass on. However, as I got to the end I thought, what if she doesn’t?

My advice about switching it up.
Don’t be afraid to try out a different angle or outcome. Write both or more and see what tugs at your emotions. Give it to someone else and see what they have to say.

-Sheryl

 

Other emotion evoking posts.

That is disgusting

It’s funny you said that…

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Melody

Over used and oft abused.

Ah, the word shiver. Over used and oft abused. This is on my personal list of filter words. One that is injected into a sentence to replace showing an emotion. I find it in plethora among the words of a romance, horror or mystery. Or just dumped in to lazy writing, like I’m guilty of. 😉

At first I used this word freely, it’s a great way to express an obvious feeling right? Well yes and no. People shiver for different reasons, it’s those reasons that suggest this blanket word can be stretched out or removed altogether.

Example 1.

Billy’s fingers gently brushed the back of her arm sending pleasant shivers across her body. (15)

Not a bad sentence really. A few unnecessary words. If I’m also worried about (word count) I would remove gently and pleasant, they are implied anyway. Three words doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Her skin tingled as Billy’s fingers brushed the back of her arm. (12)

Example 2.

Elouise shivered suddenly for no reason whatsoever. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” She muttered to herself. (18)

Meh, it could use a little trimming and rewording.

Elouise frowned and rubbed her arms. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” (13)

Example 3. (I still write like this.)

Tod had never felt so bone achingly cold in his life. He was shivering so hard his teeth chattered loudly. (20)

Now I know enough to rewrite it to this. FYI the word felt is a super filter word.

Tod wrapped his arms around his aching body, unable to stop his chattering teeth. (14)

Do I never use the word shiver? No, it’s a fun word that evokes a personal response. I do use it sparingly or try to anyway. Sometimes a plain ole shiver is just what the story needs, especially if there is no established reason for it.

My advice about overuse.
Overuse can happen with any word, shiver is just an example. Make a list of ‘important’ words you see too often in your writing and then see how often you actually use them. Then see if you can switch it up or swap it out, but don’t jeopardize the story or the flow if you can’t think of a way to change it.

-Sheryl

 

Other related Posts.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Shiver

Obvious

Jeopardize

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

There is a part of my writing that makes me actually sit up and enter typo land as their unchallenged champion.

Violence and action. I LOVE a good action scene in a book, especially when it’s fun, interesting and Fierce. When I’m preparing to write my own, I sit and envision the scene over and over. Each persons’ actions and reactions and what’s going on around them. It’s a lot to take in let alone get out into written word.

My first action fight scene is a long one, several chapters in fact. It had to be, a lot happens. The entire story is pulled in, the whole point of it all is laid out and the villains for the next book are introduced and humanized.

That isn’t the first violent action scene in the book, but the first one I wrote. After I finished the first draft it was evident something was missing. So I wrote an intriguing and dangerous introduction for a character who is basically the reason the whole story takes place. I honed and revised that chapter so many times until I knew it flowed well and was pleasing to the imagination.

Writing violence is fun, but risky. The temptation to become melodramatic, cheesy or start telling vs showing is strong. I had oodles of tag lines, filter words and typos in the action scenes. Some of the reactions were over the top and they needed to be toned down to more realistic responses. Sure the science fiction allows for a certain amount of embellishment in the action department, but even fantastic it needed to be believable within the parameters I set throughout the story.

My advice about action and violence.
Get it out of your mind and onto paper or the screen. Once there, whip it into shape and draw the reader in by showing not telling the events. Action is exciting and violence is thrilling, it’s a great way to jolt a timid story or give a character reason to progress, regress or become someone altogether different.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

More is less, and vice versa.

Today’s prompt made me realize something was missing from my writing tools. My arsenal of tricks, techniques and knowledge. Something forgotten and lost. Something to relearn. Not an addiction, trendy magazines, or Florida based TV show references, but a method to convey the reverse.

Vice“>Vice Versa. Simply put, it means to state the opposite of what was said.

Easy to use and easy to use incorrectly.

For example.

“Can I come?”
He smiled. “Sure, but bring your own book, and vice versa.”
She raised her eyebrow, the temptation to let him know that a book cannot bring her to the book review club on the tip of her tongue.

“If he wants to win the cooking competition, he needs to spend more time prepping the meals, and vice versa.”

Meals cannot prep a person. I have heard this used incorrectly a few times, but in the right place, it can make the point shorter, cutting word count too.

“It cannot be. Birds do not breathe under water, just as a fish cannot breathe air.”
“It cannot be. Birds do not breathe like fish, and vice versa.”

How I might use visa versa.

Billy sauntered into the café, ordered his usual and found his back corner table. Sitting comfortably with a slouch he pulled his book out to read and wait.

He hid his malicious smile behind his book as she hesitated outside the door. “Glutton for punishment.” He chuckled as she ordered. She sat with her mug of coffee three tables away, casting icy glances his way.

Halfway through her cup, he stood with his and strolled by her table.

She glared up at him. “You owe me a cup of coffee you deplorable creature.” He looked down at her abnormally tidy hair and perfect makeup. This woman snubbed him because of his clothes, she treats the baristas as inferiors and steps on others to get where she is.

“You’re right.” He looked at his mug. “I can only afford half today.” He dumped the remains of his coffee into her mug. “I’ll get you the other half next time.” He set his mug down and once again left her stunned as she watched him leave.

There was no doubt, she despised him, and vice versa.

My advice today.
Things you knew well can be forgotten and rediscovered again by something as simple as a word prompt. Just don’t overdo it when you get it back. 😉 After all more is less, and vice versa.

-Sheryl

The story that occurs before this one: That is disgusting

And another post by me.
The “word count” down.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Doubt

The ‘been there, done that’ people

I have no illusions to the fact that I need sometimes need an expert’s advice and help.  Why? Because I am not a professional writer nor editor and there are always going to be someone that knows more or has more experience than I do. I would be a fool to pass it up for ego’s sake.

That advice and information that I’ve found has been instrumental to me getting where I am today with my book. I have seen some people shun the advice of experts for a few reasons. Ego, laziness, and even fear. Yes fear. Taking advice from someone ‘better’ than I am, can be intimidating. What if they say my work is crap? But, what if they don’t? Even if they did, I would hope that they would advise me on what is needed to un-crappify it.

Without advice I would never have turned this:

The seats were all full at the coffee shop. Abigale liked routine and needed to sit. Even though the other occupant at the table was that annoying guy she approached him.
“May I sit here?” She asked.
“I don’t think so.” He replied and put his foot on the chair.
“Jerk.” She said and walked away.

Into this:

The café was unusually busy with the patrons from the busker’s carnival outside. Abigale needed her routine, sit, drink her coffee and read blogs before work. There was only one seat at a small table; and that unpleasant lowlife was seated at it.

She hastily glanced around and swallowed her pride. “Excuse me. May I sit?”
Billy looked up from his book. “I don’t think so.” He put his sneaker-clad foot on the vacant seat.
Her mouth fell open and she furrowed her brow with a hard exhale.

A young couple nearby surveyed the area and made eye contact with Billy.
He smiled at them. “I’m done here if you two want these seats.”
“Oh thank you so much.” The young woman sat when Billy moved his foot and stood.
“You’re a first class jerk.” Abigale lowered her chin with a sneer.
Billy dunked his finger in her coffee. “You have no idea.” He stuck his finger in his mouth and left her staring after him in shock.

With some simple rules from those that have ‘been there and done that’, I was able to learn to turn a simple encounter into an annoying one.

My advice about experts.
Seek them out, take what advice you need and learn from them. You don’t have to do every single thing they say, but be open minded. Don’t forget some ‘experts’ are merely know-it-all’s with nothing constructive to say. I don’t pay them much attention.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Tag! You’re it.

Copyediting. Why I didn’t pay someone to destroy my fragile confidence.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Expert

“How could you?”

Me and my first.
“Are you cheating on me?” That question was a long time coming.
I cast my eyes away. “Yes, yes I am.”
“How long has this been going on?”
I swallowed hard. “Half way through revision I took a break.”
“A break!”
I need to be honest, to come clean. “Yeah, I started another book.”
“How could you? I thought I was your one and only!”
“You are my first, and I love you, but I need to move on. I need more.”
“So it’s over?”
I smiled and tilted my head. “Oh no, it’s far from over. You and I have a big future ahead of us. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I’m not a one book kinda gal.”

Moving on from working on one book to another is strangely emotional experience. I’ve spent so much time with my first book, reading, revising, and editing that it feels as if I’m being unfaithful. Which is funny because it’s a continuation of the story and characters. Even so, as I sit and read through my very, very rough draft of my second book, I feel as if I should be working on the first one.

I shake my head in amusement at all the typo’s, taglines, grammar errors, filter words and so on. I have a lot of work to do and it’s not at all daunting for me. I love editing my own work, because its mine. The satisfaction of seeing it go from simple raw ingredients to a beautifully decorated cake, is unbelievably rewarding. Unless it turns out to be a nut filled fruitcake, then something went horribly wrong.

With first book is finished and in sort of limbo. I have an appointment in a week and a half with a consultant to work on my first 50 pages, synopsis and query letter. Once they are perfected, I will begin the hunt for a Literary Agent. I’m so excited.

My advice (that has nothing to do with this post).
Go ahead and let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Then prove them wrong in a spectacular way.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts related to editing.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Show and tell

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Cheat

Oops! What did I just say?

The other day I was reading a book written by a very well known author. I was enjoying the chapter and my eyes tripped on a words and the story ground to a halt. There was a typo. A word spelled correctly, but not the correct word.  I thought “Huh, even the best make Mistakes .” That is because they are human, just like me. I smiled and kept reading.

My proofreaders and I have found typos in my book. There are probably still a bunch in there. I’ve talked about this before in revision posts, but I thought I’d show an example this time. 

Sasha turned and looked over her shoulder at the reflection in the mirror. The tight red dress made her ass look phenomenal. Billy is going to love it for sure. Their second date. Running her hands over the soft supple fabric, he imagined Billy doing the same.

Fastest sex change in history 😉 also IMO the easiest typo to make.

Billy cleared his throat as the waiter approached.
“Are you ready to order?” The waiter looked at Sasha.
Sasha smiled up at the waiter. “Yes I’ll have the Chicken Primavera.”
“Very good and for you sir?”
Billy nodded at the menu. “I’ll have the Anus steak medium rare, the spring vegetables instead of the potatoes please.”
“Excellent choice sir.”

Oops! I’m not sure what kind of restaurant Billy took Sasha to, but I hope they at least serve local beef.
In revision, I might be horrified and fix that mistake or take the opportunity to work it in.

“Excellent choice sir.” The polite waiter took their menus and shuffled off quickly.
Sasha snickered behind her hand.
“What?” Billy furrowed his brow.
“I know you want a piece of ass Billy, but I figured you could at least wait until after dinner.”
Billy’s puzzled frown lasted only a moment before his face went red and he laughed.

My advice about mistakes.
You will make them. They can be fixed. Before you do, think about it, can it become part of the story? Defiantly have someone else review your work, they might catch a typo you passed by several times because you wrote it in the first place.

-Sheryl

 

Other Posts relating to mistakes.

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

 
Mistake

That is disgusting

People can be gross, I mean really gross. They do things that make me cringe.

When a character does something disgusting and it’s shown and not told, I will be disgusted too. And that is the entire point of reading a book. I want to be in the story. I want to feel it.

For example:

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After examining his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking. Nobody Witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Feigning interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.

Billy walked away, a slow satisfied smile creeping to his lips.

I loved writing this because Billy the bad-guy is as much a victim as the woman who is horrible in her own way.

Billy has a habit. He likes to pick his nose. It’s called rhinotillexis. If he eats it, it’s called Mucophagy. Does the reader need to know the specific detail of what the act is called? Maybe. If it’s relevant to the story. Otherwise, leave it as a quirk or bad habit.

Cringe worthy things happen all the time. Like when someone hands you money that was carefully tucked away in her sweaty cleavage. What bothers you might not bother someone else.

My advice about grossing out your readers.
If it gives you the heebie-jeebies or turns your stomach, it’s safe to use. My example was a very long way to say, – He picked his nose, flicked it into the shrew’s drink and watched as she drank it. – Blech.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

It’s funny you said that…

Originally, this blog was going to be about trapdoors, but that fell through.

Humor in writing is difficult. Not everybody has the same taste or sense of humor. Chances are if it’s funny to you, it will be funny to someone else too.

I found it’s all about set up. A well-timed joke or funny comment or moment requires foreshadow. Not the, hit your reader over the head with an Obvious set up, but something subtle.

The thing about humor is it’s personal. Not just to me the writer, or to you the reader, but mostly to the character in the story. If they don’t have personality or a pre-designed history the humor might fall flat. A sarcastic person is not likely to be droll but may use self-depreciating humor. A person prone to dry humor is likely witty and might lean on morbid humor. This is where its important that I know my characters.

Similes, metaphors, satire or irony are great methods of humor. A funny moment doesn’t have to be directly in the conversation either, it can be in the narrative or environment around the characters.

There are of course books galore and articles explaining how to be funny. They have some examples, but ironically are not funny in themselves. Or at least the few I attempted to read.

I found as I developed my characters funny moments just happened naturally. Conflicting or contrasting personalities helps.

Puns are easy, lazy and often work:

They were exhausted and ready to drop. As usual Carl was pushing them hard and receiving death glares from more than one in his unit.

“Come on boys bend like you actually give a squat!”

Larry leaned his head toward Cam. “Yells the guy doing diddly-squats.”

Cam snickered nearly losing his balance.

Maybe that’s funny, maybe not. I liked it.

My advice about humor.
Don’t sweat it, nothing slays the dragon of humor like overthinking it. If you’re stuck I suggest thinking about things that make you laugh. Next time someone says something funny write it down and think about why it made you laugh.

“It’s difficult to explain humor to kleptomaniacs, because they take things literally.” -unknown

– Sheryl

Other blogs you might find funny.

Silliness and seriousness

What happened to that guy?

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved