As regular readers may faintly recall, one of my minor projects for March was to monitor all the occasions when that stupid William F. Butler quote about “A society that separates its scholars from its warriors…” was attributed on the Twitter to Thucydides, if only to work out precisely how much of a waste of time it is for the Thucydiocy Bot (@Thucydiocy) to keep correcting it. The results are now in, and the conclusion is: lots.
The line was quoted, attributed to Thucydides, 74 times, by 53 different accounts. 64 of these featured the weird picture of some students in academic costume that I talked about a while back. When @Thucydiocy replied with a correction, just two people responded (one other account simply followed without any comment, which I suspect was an automatic response); two other accounts deleted the tweets in question; two others blocked @Thucydiocy.
it’s now overwhelmingly obvious that the majority of these quotes – and above all the ones with the picture are being tweeted automatically by accounts signed up to a ‘social jukebox’ service (see http://www.socialjukebox.com). The free version sends out 5 tweets per day, of which 1 is customised and directly related to the business behind the account (see e.g. @MtsLimousine). For $19.99 per month, you can send out far more, running several different accounts if you wish; @JeanneCEvans tweets 80 or more times a day, mostly ‘words of wisdom’/’tips for success’ quotes interspersed with advertisements for gadgets promoting wellness, while the connected accounts @anneduncanlive and @highimpacthabit fire out over 200 per day, with plenty of links to videos and webpages promising success in business and digital marketing.
Only 8 of the accounts showed no immediate evidence of having any sort of business interest to promote – no mention in the biography, no website (I haven’t bothered to go through all their tweets to check whether I’m being too naive and optimistic – after all, Social Jukebox and its relatives are selling themselves to small businesses, and why would anyone else sign up to Twitter and then have all their tweets sent out automatically from a limited preprogrammed repertoire?). Among the business accounts, there’s a clear preponderance of digital marketing consultants (12), wellness, mindfulness and psychic advisers (8) and secrets of business success people (6), followed by limousine hire firms (4) and a miscellaneous tail of accommodation finders, travel consultants, sellers of expensive watches and a house cleaning service.
The graduation picture seems to be a pretty sure sign of someone using this service – but the quote without a picture isn’t a guarantee of genuineness, as among the accounts tweeting the quote alone were @alphabetsuccess, the CEO of Social Jukebox Tim Fargo, and @tweet_jukebox another branch of his enterprise. The clearest indicator of a Social Jukebox user, however, is the fact that sooner or later the account tweets quotations from that famous thinker and sage…Tim Fargo.
In sum, the evidence suggests that the vast majority of accounts tweeting this line are automatic, coordinated by the sinister mind-polluting enterprise that is Social Jukebox – and that I should simply ignore them, except to relieve occasional frustration by hurling abuse at their terrible approach to social media, ‘cos it’s not as if they’re real people who might be upset…