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[flagged] Baffled student tells Twitter: 'I'm not a Chinese agent' (bbc.com)
38 points by rakkhi 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments



I can't help but feels some sense of entitlement though the story. How dare they to ban me from Twitter ?

If you paid a consultant and suddenly your number of followers greatly increase, aren't you a bit naive to think this was due to genuine interest ? Even more so, if you are positioning yourself as a cybersecurity expert.

The interesting point was about the lack (or ban from) of twitter account and potential career prospect.


> If you paid a consultant and suddenly your number of followers greatly increase, aren't you a bit naive to think this was due to genuine interest ?

I'm with you apart from this sentence. What can you do after the damage was done? I'd assume they thought the consultant was legitimate, the opposite proved to be the case, and the two of them had no idea what to do afterwards. Ask bots to unfollow you? Create a new account and lose the legitimate ones you'd have regardless of this? Admit to Twitter's support that you gave access to someone illegitimate?

Their situation admittedly sucks, but I have no clue how would I undo the damage if I made the same mistake.


> Create a new account and lose the legitimate ones you'd have regardless of this?

This. On the old account, tweet something like "I worked with a consultant who turned out to just sell fake followers. I want to leave those behind, so please follow my new account @foobar instead."


I don't know enough about the actual story to comment much further, and I don't know exactly how many followers had the account before & after, so this might not be realistic, but blocking really obvious fake followers would make you less suspicious in the end.


Errrm, the article isn't complaining about him being banned from Twitter, it's complaining about Twitter publicly accusing him of being a Chinese agent and standing by that rather suspect conclusion.


> "I had a social media freelancer supporting the start of the accounts,” Marin said, "and I suspect he bought some Twitter followers/bots, which I thought explained the suspension - until today.”

An uneducated assumption: that freelancer gave API access to some app usually used by Chinese propagandists, Luka and his father didn't go through the authorized apps since, and Twitter decided to really not dig deep into this false positive, but superficially confirmed that this account indeed gave access to some app that it shouldn't have.


This story doesn't shine a good light on the student, especially if he wants to be in the field of security he should be more savvy.

Either he bought followers, or gave suspicious apps authorization to post on his behalf, or his account was hacked.

None of the three seem good.


> Either he bought followers, or gave suspicious apps authorization to post on his behalf, or his account was hacked.

In the latter two, Twitter could easily prove that he was part of the influence network by producing the tweets that were made via his account.

And buying followers is against TOS (but do they ban people for that? #doubt), but certainly not everybody that has fake followers is declared to be an actor in a state-sponsored misinformation campaign.


Sounds like the exact thing a Chinese agent would say!


https://twitter.com/GeniusWu/status/1164029417737207808

China News Service invites paying some 1.25 million yuan for 580,000 followers.


1 False positive so far? Wow, that is quite a specific (but perhaps not sensitive) algorithm they have!


One false positive so far who obviously isn't even in China - that seems like something that would be really easy for Twitter to check. We don't know about the number of false positives amongst people who are actually Chinese, in China, and using VPNs to access Twitter (which are the signals Twitter claimed to have been using) and we probably never never.


Tldr; seems to be that the student bought followers, which is what likely associated the account with Chinese-run bot networks, etc.


Which is also a valid reason to suspend the account. He (or his dad) was foolish and this article is overstating the cause of the suspension which is entirely his own (by buying followers though a shady person/company).


Twitter made it sound like they did an investigation though. If all they did was run some script and then put everybody that shared some association on a list, that puts the whole news in perspective.




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