Your Fly Is Open

Netmenaces and Other Internet Stupidity

Why Should the Bad Guys Have All the Fun?

2021-04-12 3 min read twitter

The latest skeevy tactic to be used by the skeevy purveyors of term papers is to troll Twitter for tweets containing specific keywords or phrases and respond with a skeevy sales pitch pushing their… well… skeevy wares.

Tweet about the deadline you’re facing on an essay or research paper, and you’ll get responses from all sorts of folks willing to assist you with your homework.

Ambulance chasing at its finest.

Shortly after I first discovered this phenomenon, I found myself thinking, “Why should the bad guys have all the fun?

If these scummy, border-line legitimate businesses can create their own plagiarism-promotion Twitter-bots (that use all too predictable phraseology) and attempt to persuade students to abandon their academic integrity, what’s to keep someone from creating a Twitter-bot designed to promote an alternative message? And what’s to prevent that Twitter-bot from targeting the exact tweets that the term-paper-promotion bots target?

The only problem would be finding a stunningly handsome and devastatingly brilliant person who would be willing and able to create something like that… in, as it turns out, only a couple of hours.

While it still needs a little improvement*, I give you the anti-plagiarism Twitter bot:

A Tweet

I’ll gladly entertain suggestions for better wording on the messages it sends.

Here it is in all of it’s glory, responding amidst a torrent of term-paper Twitter-spam.

A torrent of term-paper Twitter-spam

[Because I redacted them all, I counted - so you don’t have to: there were 24 scummy responses]

Hey, term-paper pushers: it sucks to be hoisted by your own petard, doesn’t it?

-TL
Tom Liston
Owner, Principal Consultant
Bad Wolf Security, LLC
and
Senior Technical Engineer
Counter Hack
Twitter: @tliston
March 18, 2021

[Update #1: It took me all of 5 minutes to make the fix I talk about down there in the footnote with the asterisk. What can I say? I’m good… Unfortunately, I was too tired last night to think in any depth about it. Back online!]

[Update #2: Yes, I know that this represents a tiny drop in a great ocean full of Internet Menace. I acknowledge that. All I can say is: it makes me feel better.]

*There's one issue I need to figure out how to fix:

I had a lovely conversation with a couple of K-pop stans who clued me in on some behavior that wasn’t making sense (I was seeing several totally unrelated mentions of “essay” in replies an odd variety of tweets). It seems that the youngsters have figured out how to use the essay Twitter-bots to their advantage - because they tend to both like and reply to tweets about essays:

Conversation with a K-pop stan

While I applaud their ingenuity, I don’t want my bot to be dragged into that sort of use. I’m pretty sure I know how to fix this issue (and I also have some improvements planned…) but for now, I’ve taken it off-line until I can implement the changes.