The Case of the Minion Accounts

It was a day like any other. A few random accounts follow me, I follow some that I stumble upon, and then she appears. The boob AVI. A glorious one. The kind of boob AVI that makes you think, “Those might actually be hers.” Slightly out of focus, pushed up uncomfortably, probably actual human flesh all the way through.

CosmicCat

@CosmicCat

The kind of AVI that, now that I’ve pasted it into this piece is constantly distracting me and keeping me from getting on with my story.

She was a good tweeter, this @CosmicCat. Funny, oddball, worth a follow. Her timeline smelled of lilac and coffee and sex. I imagine her legs go all the way to the floor, although I’m not sure, since there are no selfies. A class act. I honestly don’t remember whether she followed me first, or I followed her first. My memory goes all jelly when I look at a rack like that. But regardless, we followed each other. And it worked.

Things went on in that day like any other, and I was followed by another account. One of those quirky accounts with a cartoon AVI, and a gibberish bio, and 1-2K followers. You know the type. So I started my vetting ritual.

You see, when I get a new follower, I have to decide if they are worth my time. And by this, I really mean that I have to guess if they have the inherent ability to appreciate me. Because really, that’s all I’m here for. The validation. One more doll that thinks I’m the bees knees, one more cat who thinks I have what it takes.

I read their tweets, skip all their RT’s and @’s. Just see what they have to say. And I star anything I like. Might even RT if there is something exceptional. And at the end of this process, I’ll decide whether to follow back. If there was nothing to star, no follow back. Simple as that. Something to star, gets the follow.

This quirky tweeter had a few tweets I liked, so they got the follow back. Also, they RT’d my new boob AVI obsession, so they can’t be all bad.

The next day, in the mix of new follows I got another quirky tweeter. Same M.O.: cartoon AVI, gibberish bio, 1-2K followers. But I get a lot of strange followers, so I thought nothing of it. I started my vetting. Decent tweets. A few stars. Oh, look! There’s CosmicCat again. Huh. Gets the follow back.

And the next day. Another in the mix. Same thing. And as I went through this one, I noticed something that seemed familiar. They tweeted a day ago. And on February 18. And on Feburary 8. Just a little pattern. But I’ve seen that pattern before. So I go back to that other quirky account, and confirm: yup, same dates. Interesting.

So I dig deeper.

Before that February 8 tweet, there were a few RTs, and the previous real tweet was October 6. Same thing on all three accounts. This is not a coincidence. I smell a rat.

They also are all RT’ing my new favorite boob AVI CosmicCat. They are also RT’ing several other accounts in common, but that AVI draws my eye, and so it draws my suspicion.

I look at the CosmicCat tweets these quirky accounts are RT’ing. They are all over the place in terms of time. All the way back to 2011. Good tweets. Worthy of a RT, but crazy spread out. I think there might be a connection. But I also realize that I can’t take my eyes off that dame’s AVI, and so I’m probably not being objective. Plus, it always turns out to be the dame in these stories, so that would just be lazy writing.

Over the next several days, I get more and more of these quirky accounts. I created a list:

Minion List

23 members as I write this. Eventually I get to recognize them very quickly. I don’t bother with the vetting. Just follow back and add them to my list. I called my list “Minions” because it seems to me that these are like minion accounts, doing the bidding of some unknown mothership account. But who?

Somewhere out there is a big cheese, telling these minions to follow me. Like so many cigarette girls, trying to get me to buy a pack of Lucky’s. And I don’t smoke.

I decide to take my investigation to the next level. When you tweet, there is a lot of information attached to that tweet that doesn’t show up on the screen. But it’s there. They call it “metadata.” And being a developer, I happen to know the easy ways to take a look at this metadata.

I start comparing the tweets from these accounts, and I find two things:

1. The minion tweets are definitely coming from the same person. Same oddball time zone (Arizona), same app used to post them (TweetBot).

2. It isn’t CosmicCat. She uses other apps, and tweets from a different time zone. The dame is in the clear.

Having eliminated her as a suspect, I DM her to see if she has any idea. She gets RT’d by these quirky accounts all the time. Perhaps she’s noticed. She gets right back to me. Nope. No idea.

At the same time, I make my minion list public. I figure I’ll shake the tree. See what falls out. And within a couple hours, I am added to a list by one of the minions, and I am RT’d and star-banged by another.

A few more minions follow me over night.

I don’t know how this story is going to end. I’m nursing a new theory, though. Perhaps this is an account incubator. Perhaps some industrious person is creating accounts, building up their stats, and then will sell them. Change the @, the AVI, and the name, and allow someone to jump in with a big follower count overnight.

Or maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg, and they have thousands of these minion accounts, ready to follow anyone for a price.

Time will tell. I’ll keep adding them to my list as they follow me. If they are selling the accounts, eventually one will transform and I’ll know for certain. Or, perhaps, they will read this story and block me. Who knows.

But that dame’s on my follower list now, that @CosmicCat, with the AVI that beckons. As are a couple dozen minions. I might kick them to the curb. I might keep them around. Hard to say. I pour a cognac, turn on my phone, see what crazy thing twitter has in store for me next. Oh, look. A new elite joke format. Just the thing to help me unwind.

Update: The mystery is solved.

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