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article imagePolice question man after Twitter bot makes death threats

By Megan Hamilton     Feb 13, 2015 in Technology
Amsterdam - Twitter user Jeffry van der Goot found himself being questioned by police after his Twitter bot wrote some interesting, if ominous tweets that appeared to be death threats.
Van der Goot found himself with a bit of explaining to do to the police and on Twitter, Fusion notes. His bot mixes and matches his tweets, taking random words and, in a sort of word salad, tosses them together into new sentences that hopefully, make sense.
This time however, van der Goot says, the bot tweeted what sounded like a threat about an upcoming event in Amsterdam. To add further fat to the fire, the bot was responding to another bot. He's not identifying the bot in question and says he's deleted it, at the request of the police. If this isn't a hoax, Fusion notes, it may well be the first time cops have had to respond to a call because of the threat of robot-on-robot violence.
"I had to explain Twitter bots to the police," he said, per CBR. "And I can't really blame them for having to take it seriously. But apparently I'm responsible for what the bot says, and since it's under my name and based on my words, which I think is an interesting legal angle."
Malware intelligence analyst Christopher Boyd, of Malwarebytes, put it this way:
"Once you load up your bot and send it into the wilds of Twitter stuffed to the brim with words to reassemble, you have little control over what will be said."
So this meant that van der Goot had to take to the wilds of Twitter to explain himself, The Verge reports.
"I just got visited by the police because of a death threat my Twitter bot made," he tweeted.
In the next tweet, he noted that he had to explain what a Twitter bot is to the police. Talking to the police stressed him out and he had to "process and wind down" before he could talk to a reporter, Fusion notes.
Van der Goot may have owned the bot, but he didn't create it. Instead, it was the brain child (or demon seed, depending upon how you look at it) of @WxCafe, who apologized for the misbehaving bot:
"Wow so one of my bots sent out a death threat? I'm very sorry this happened."
Perhaps it was something the other bot said.
More about Twitter bot makes death threats, police question man, Twitter, software developer, Amsterdam
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