After being followed twice on twitter by scary new-age users (See posts here and here) promoting their dubious wares, I decided to run a small experiment today. At least one of the followings seemed to be triggered by references to fairly obscure new-age pseudoscience in my twitter, which lead me to suspect that such terms were being searched for in the public timeline. Time for a test!
Today at around 11am, I fired-off a short tweet:
Note that this was nice and straightforward. No attempt to suggest I was pro-homeopathy at all and hideously out-of-context against my tweets before and after. If a human was actually reading my personal timeline to see if I really was interested in homeopathy, there wasn't much of a suggestion that I was pro - or even interested in - that subject.
A bot however wouldn't be likely to tell the difference -- or care.
Line cast, I sat and waited. Would I get a nibble?
At 11:30 - (bing!) I have new mail - could it be? Yes!
That's around 30 minutes from cast to bite - not too shabby!
This bunch don't seem to be obviously selling anything or running a scam, so I'm not about to report them as spammers, but still - 30 minutes! That has to be a 'bot scanning the public timeline.
(For reference, the tweets that attracted one of my previous followers were actually completely negative about the subject - discussion about debunking 'Energy Medicine' and specifically the 'e-lybra' version 8 and 9 'bio-resonance system'. I never did work out what triggered the first. )