Neal Rauhauser: Plowing Up Astroturf (Outing Robo-Tweeters)

Advanced Cyber/IO, Crowd-Sourcing
Neal Rauhauser
Neal Rauhauser

Plowing Up Astroturf

I received an interesting bit of commission work earlier today – would I help someone plow up a bunch of astroturf. It sounded like an interesting test of my expanding social network analysis skills, so I agreed to take on the task.

I was given a list of six Twitter accounts. One had 2,000+ friends, two had 1,000+ friends, one had 500+ friends, and then there were two very small accounts that were suspected to be coordinators or handlers. Numbers like that are clearly beyond the query limits for Maltego, so the solution would have to be Gephi. I recently published my savetwit shell script, which exercises the python twitter package in order to collect as much information as possible on Twitter accounts. The process kicks out a couple of csv format files suitable for use as edge files in Gephi.

The accounts in question proved to have 4,300 friends and 5,200 links. This is labeled ‘anonymous’, it isn’t anything to do with Anonymous, it’s just a group that I don’t want to spook by mentioning their names.

. . . . . .

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

And here we have it – the tricolor battleground, with yellow/green on one side, and red on the other. The single red and two blue dots are what modularity shows us. I suspect that if these accounts were isolated, entered into Maltego, and manually colored for allegiance that this would be a three way tussle, and that the names in this portion of the graph are the ones that are lobbing verbal grenades at each other on a nightly basis.

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