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Confessions of a Twitter Bot
Stories from the "Pod Life"
300lb shifty-eyed disinformation spook by day, sexual humiliation enthusiast by night. Jerry X is no average three hundred pound basement apartment dweller, he works for the NSA. He is a member of the NSA’s secret social media counter-intelligence task-force.
“It’s a fancy job title,” he says, “but basically we pretend to be real people with real lives sharing real opinions on social media.” With the use of the NSA’s most advanced technology, people like Jerry are able to make countless profiles and help keep the internet safe.
“I use about 200 different profiles a day, but everyone thinks they belong to real people. The technology is really advanced!”
Jerry is three hundred pounds in real life, but in his day job he gets to be whoever he wants. “One day I’m Aunt Martha making sure no one spreads vaccine hesitancy in the comments section of popular Substack pages; the next minute I’m Joel Darrick—a proud veteran from Hawaii combating harmful rhetoric about ‘forever wars’ under Ben Shapiro Facebook posts. Sometimes I’m just a retired sales rep twittering in favor of Republican Dan Crenshaw’s calls to keep the opium fields safe in Afghanistan.”
“Trolling is an important part of the job,” explains Jerry. “I troll people who write comments that deviate from the norm and comment favorably under articles with NSA and CIA-approved narratives.”
Jerry says there are more people like him than we imagine, but we’ll never know just how many, thanks to the NSA and Pentagon’s state of the art technology. “Humans aren’t really much different from robots anyways, so no one can recognize the army of Twitter bots,” he quipped.
In a word: Jerry is a Machiavellian netizen surveying the wild west of Twitter and Facebook to counter dangerous misinformation.
“A job using fake personas seemed like a natural choice for me,” he says. “Ever since I was a kid playing dress-up with my grandma, I’ve always been good at being other people. Grandma used to sow dresses for me and said I really played the part well. I’m good at being normal people, with real dog pictures on their social media accounts, links to NPR articles in their Facebook feeds, and having conversations with fake friends. No one can tell us apart!”
Jerry is on social media all day, but he doesn’t mind: “I don’t mind sitting in front of a screen twelve hours a day. I’m used to staring at the blue light, and I don’t really like sunlight anyways. It makes me very anxious. I’ll take the fuzzy blue light over stranger danger and sunny summer days anytime,” he laughs.
Jerry reveals that cyber warriors like him use all the latest developments and techniques from the fields of social psychology and behavioral science. He says they use techniques like “nudging” to target what people in his line of work call “automatic motivations.”
Jerry explains that in the case of vaccine mandates, expert research shows that the number one motivator for people to get vaccinated is “protecting loved ones.” “If people are going to be presented with facts and information, they’re going to have to think about it and use their ‘reflective processes’” explains Jerry, “but we don’t have time for that! On the other hand, no one has to think about whether they want to protect loved ones—it’s evolutionary science! We make sure to frame questions the right way. That way people don’t have to think. We just ‘nudge’ them in the right direction.”
“My favorite message is ‘Stay Home. Save Lives’ because the only alternative is ‘leave your home and murder people,’” explains Jerry. He looked up and smiled, “You don’t want to be a murderer, do you?”
“Basically, we are an army of ‘nudgers,’” he laughs. “We’re nudging people towards a better tomorrow! This way people have more time to focus on the things they care about, like the new Metaverse.”
Being an expert in counter-intelligence and psychological warfare means Jerry understands a good deal about human behavior. “Most people get their ideas from what we call ‘the group,’” he explained. “We are hard-wired to want to be part of a group because in primitive human times, and in the animal world, if you were kicked out of the pact, you were as good as dead. So the threat of being kicked out of the group is still very visceral. These ‘automatic motivations’ are built into our brains. We use these to make sure people know which ideas are safe and which ideas are dangerous.”
Jerry laughed. He choked on his saliva for a moment: his thick blobby throat and chins rippled, but after a few moments he continued explaining: “If it weren’t for these techniques, people might be talking about all sorts of things. Democracies could get out of hand. The wrong candidates could win.”
“I take my job very seriously,” he explains. “If it wasn’t for the CIA, NSA, Pentagon and the other agencies, Democrats might believe ‘my body my right’ also applies to mandatory vaccination; they might still be against wars; the Republican party would probably still be Christian.”
But what about his social life? What does a high-level NSA social media spook do for fun?
“Spies are much different in real life,” Jerry says. “Admittedly, none of us look like Jason Bourne.”
Before his current gig, Jerry used to do some field work for the NSA. “I got tired of sitting in cars and eating sardines all night,” he explains. “I would have to follow people wherever they went to find out their vices and make sure the agencies knew what they were up to. What can I say? The NSA doesn’t like surprises.”
We asked Jerry to tell us more about his experiences in field work. “A lot of the people I used to follow were pretty average folk—they just happened to follow, subscribe to or share ideas that were a no-no for the intelligence community, or maybe they were privy to the discussions between VIPS. Like I said, the NSA doesn’t like surprises. We want to know everything, just in case the odd one actually makes it, or starts a podcast or something.”
Though Jerry was never really a fan of fieldwork, he did mention finding an enchanting medieval sex dungeon in Montreal. “I go there all the time now—whenever I get a few days off. For me, getting kicked in the face is pretty thrilling,” he says. “I prefer it to any kind of traditional intercourse. Our traditions are so overrated.”
“Had I not followed some grimy politician around for a couple of months, I would have never discovered my humiliation fetish. Now I’m completely free.”
We asked Jerry if getting kicked in the face was painful, but he said that he always harkens back to a line from one of his favorite movies, Hell Raiser: “you know the first one when Pinhead says ‘pleasure and pain indistinguishable?’ That’s me.”
Were it not for people like Jerry, social media platforms would be a very different place, he explains. “The Republican party would probably be steered by menaces like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and God knows what other menaces. Most of the National Review columnists would probably be out of a job! Someone like Tulsi Gabbard or Bernie Sanders might have even become president.”
“It’s very dangerous,” says Jerry. “The NSA and other agencies just can’t afford it.”
“Thanks to the NSA, I’ve found true meaning in life,” says Jerry. “And I don’t have to worry about any human to human interaction—unless it’s in Montreal.”