How a bot army probably got me kicked off Twitter

Whether they’re scantily clad women trying to get you to click on dodgy links, or politics-focused automated accounts pushing a certain message, Twitter’s bots are running rampant on the social network.

But in a sign of how haphazard the company’s anti-bot measures may be, Twitter inadvertently locked someone’s account yesterday after a wave of bots descended on their target.

That account, as it turns out, was mine.

“Caution: This account is temporarily restricted,” a message on my account read Tuesday. “You’re seeing this warning because there has been some unusual activity from this account,” it continued.

This came after analysts from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) uncovered pro-Kremlin outlets and Twitter bots spreading a certain narrative around the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests. In response to DFR Lab’s work, an army of automated accounts turned on the researchers themselves, bombarding their notifications and manipulating their follower counts.