News from TPFKAT (The Platform Formerly Known as Twitter)

The Platform Formerly Known As Twitter seems to be morphing into Ashley Maddison ||\times|| Weekend at Bernie’s, with a Hotel California subtext.

Meet Fake-Me

Even though I stay away from TPFKAT (which I subvocalize as “t-p-f-cat”), I’ve kept my account alive to prevent someone from taking over my handle, @paulmromer.

No matter. A fake account has been using the similar handle @paulmromers with some success. Fake-me blocked real-me, but from another account I can see fake-me’s copy of real-me’s profile, avatar, and tweets.

The timing of fake-me’s tweets is a little odd. Three purport to be from 2009, years before real-me joined TPFKAT.

Fake-early fake-tweets from fake-me

Then on Nov. 8, 2023, fake-me burst into action with a flurry of copies of tweets by real-me.

Fake-Me Also Sends DM’s

I’ve been away from TPFKAT for more than a year. I learned about fake-me from an email:

Dear Prof. Romer, I had a lovely conversation with you on Twitter recently, only to be brought up short by the question, purportedly from you, about whether I had any current interests in stocks or crypto.

On TPFKAT, I discovered that fake-me had also sent a DM to a student in Poland, who responded as follows. (I’ve blacked out names.)

Direct message from a student to fake-me

Fake-me sent this lame reply:
Image of a direct message to a student that purported to be from me

Sounds like text from a large language model trained on self-help books and corporate press releases. But it will improve.

Much of the Activity on TPFKAT Could Already Be Fake

Real-me sent out tweets tagging 50 accounts that were following fake-me. Less than half responded with something along the lines of “Thanks for the heads-up.” From the rest, … crickets. Since I wrote, fake-me’s followers have fallen by about half, from 1400 to 700.

There are three “verified” followers of fake-me. Real-me tagged them in tweets explaining the fraud. Two then followed real-me, so real-me sent them DMs explaining the fraud. They responded, sort of. Now, both follow both fake-me and real-me.

As a rough estimate, this suggests that fakes and automated zombies could account for as much as one-half of the activity on TPFKAT.

Ashley Maddison ||\times|| Weekend At Bernie’s

At first, an accusation may carry weight because of its specificity. Then it may emerge that the specifics derive not from any evidence about what the accused has done, but rather from the fervid imagination of the accuser. “Of course they did. Let me show you how they could.”

During Elon Musk’s bizarre dance with TPFKAT, he made noise about bots that could fudging its numbers. You don’t have to know a lot about the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried to understand that it is easier to fudge numbers from the inside.

Ashley Maddison demonstrated the viability of a business model where bots stand-in for real people. Inspired by Weekend at Bernie’s, TFPKAT might use bots to prop-up real accounts that go silent.

I want to get as far away as possible from this creepy craziness. But as TPFKAT gets better at pretending to be me, what happens to the students who are deceived?

For now, fake-me has to use a look-alike handle, but how do I respond if TPFKAT says it will take back the handle for real-me unless I start paying?

You can check out any time you like

But you can never leave