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The curious case of FNB & automated Twitter tools

FNB’s innovative Twitter account has found itself following bots filled with hardcore pornography.

Screengrab of an account automattically followed by @RBJaobs account.
Twitter,FNB
Local Business

JOHANNESBURG - Many South African companies are successfully using technology to help them do business and connect with their target market more effectively, but sometimes things don’t always work out as planned.

One of those local companies which often receives glowing praise for its digital know-how is FNB, but it seems not even the bank can escape those annoying bots (or automated programmes pretending to be humans).

It turns out @RBJacobs, FNB’s innovative Twitter account aimed at dealing with customer queries, has found “himself” following bots filled with hardcore pornography on their timelines. Poor guy.

Eyewitness News counted at least 20 such accounts on the @RBJacobs follow list. All use Arabic writing and show explicit videos.

FNB appears to have been unaware of this and explains that the account is set up to automatically follow Twitter profiles that mention the bank.

“Our Twitter persona @RBJacobs automatically follows Twitter profiles who mention FNB including all variations of FNB, as well as RBJacobs in order to streamline engagements with the Twitter community. This is done based on Twitter’s user protocol which states that one needs to follow a specific profile in order to send a direct message to them. However, RBJacobs will auto-unfollow all profiles within a few days of the initial engagement.”

The World Wide Worx's Arthur Goldstuck warns that simply following people who mention the brand can have serious implications.

“It's dangerous because as soon as people realise that it's automated. Simply following people who mention the brand doesn’t necessarily bring great benefit because they have no idea what the context of the mention is. It could be people who are attacking the brand.”

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