Monday 15 April 2024

Bot nets!

Here's something weird!

10 hours ago, this started:

You might notice a certain similarity between these tweets. They're all saying the same, fairly positive thing about me, albeit a rather bland and stupid thing. After all, do we think that it has never occurred to any author other than me to focus on ... writing and ... story?

It's obvious that what we are seeing here is bots being used to repeat the same sentiment, using AI to massage the wording slightly each time, either to make it less obvious to human observers, or, more likely to Twitter's anti-spam algorithms (if Elon let them keep any).

Some of the accounts involved appear pretty genuine, and I have to assume they've been hacked. This one, for example, has a blue tick and appears to belong to a film director who has worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So, the question is ... what's going on?

There's no way me or my publishers, even if we were feeling unethical, would take such a ridiculous risk for such low reward. It balances incredibly minimal gains (a handful of bland praise with an audience of 100s) vs reputational damage and public ridicule.

But who gains from it otherwise?

The answer is that I don't know. But my theory is that this is just automatic activity designed to create a legitimate-seeming background of Twitter activity for each of these accounts when they are viewed in isolation. This creates a more effective and believeable bot-net for when they are used to promoto crypto currencies (as many of them are) or perhaps to forward political lines for the state actor who owns them, or the interest group who hires the bot-net.

Anyway, I bring it to your attention since I found it to be an interesting topic.

Update: Days later it's still going on, and there are no some 40 or so self-identified bots all repeating the same vacuous tautology.

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Wednesday 10 April 2024


The Book That Broke The World is out in ... the world.

It's my 17th published novel. A chain of books that stretches back to Prince of Thorns.

Please go buy a copy!

It's very helpful to authors if readers buy their books early, and then read them, and then (hopefully having enjoyed the book)

i) talk about it

ii) throw stars at it on places like Amazon and Goodreads

iii) review it

If you do any of these three, I'll be even more grateful than I already was for your purchase.

If you want a signed copy then you can get a UK edition from Forbidden Planet.

You can get a US edition from The Signed Page which comes with an art card signed by me and artist Tom Roberts.

You can get a bookplate-signed US edition from VJ Books.

And to conclude, have some photos of The Locked Library special edition!

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