The Return of The Gary Glitter Twitter Bot

Hello, hello! It’s good to be back, it’s good to be back!

First off, the obligatory disclaimer: I am not a nonce and I do not condone kiddie-fiddling. Gary Glitter did have some good tunes though.

Back in 2010, my greatest contribution to the world wide web was unleashed; in the middle of the night during a thunder storm – much like Frankenstein – The Gary Glitter Twitter Bot was born. And before any of you anally retentive types start moaning about how Frankenstein was actually the inventor in that story and not the monster, I will preempt with this: inventions are often referred to by the name of the inventor (the hoover, the sandwich, wellies etcetera). So bollocks to you.

Anyway, the concept of The Gary Glitter Twitter Bot was simple: this little beast would autonomously retweet any mention of it’s namesake made on Twitter, accompanied by a Glitter quote – “Wanna be in my gang?“, “I’m the leader of the pack…” and such like. This was either met with mirth or anger by the original poster of the tweet, and that was it. Simple.

I wrote about this previously here.

Now I won’t go into too many details of how this worked from a technical point of view here, but it made use of Twitter’s API, Yahoo Pipes and a custom PHP script, and it was quite popular back in the day; achieving dubious acclaim and a fair amount of derision and outrage (all of which I consider a victory). Twitter was rife with bots during this period, my personal favourite being the Sodomy Bot, which I discovered accidentally by innocently tweeting about buggery (as you do). And this was this simple joy of Twitter bots; accidentally triggering them while talking about something completely different.

I wrote about the Sodomy Bot previously here too.

Had I had the foresight, I could have made a slew of similar paedo-bots (Nb – the collective noun for paedos is “a handful“) – featuring other infamous and sinister villains from “the list” such as a Rolfaroo Bot (“Can you tell what it is yet?“) or a Jim’ll Mix It Bot (“Jingle Jangle“, “Now then, now then…“). On reflection though, it’s probably a good idea not to be associated too closely with social media sex-fiend robot apps.

Today, bots are frowned upon by Twitter – mainly as they are seen as a source of spam, rather than humour, and should not be used to interact with other Twitter users directly or for highjack existing hashtags.

The Gary Glitter Twitter Bot gradually fell apart as Twitter changed the way it’s API works and the Yahoo Pipes service was discontinued altogether – and having tweeted more 37k times – the Gary Glitter Bot fell silent in 2012. Much like the real life Glitter behind bars in fact. Nevertheless the account survived in dormant limbo, waiting to be revived from stasis like all good horror film monsters.

Fast-forward to 2017, and after a hiatus of 5 years that day has arrived, and The Gary Glitter Twitter Bot has risen from the dead. Which basically means I have rejigged it to start tweeting again – albeit in a slightly different way this time.

Making use of several online helpful how-to guides, the bot is built using Google spreadsheets and Google Alerts, cobbled together with sellotape and string. In keeping with Twitter’s updated policies regarding bots, it does not directly interact with other users either via retweets or direct messages; instead scraping Gary Glitter related news stories from Google and sharing to the timeline (accompanied with some inappropriate jokes and lyrics for good measure).

Although not to everyone’s sense of humour, if nothing else, this bot is testament to the dangers of web developers devising creative concepts and following these ideas through to completion. So without further ado, behold The Gary Glitter Bot V2 (and give him a follow):

Just to be clear, this bot WILL:

Automatically post public news stories, videos and and content that is available through a standard Google search.

And this bot WILL NOT:

Interact directly with other Twitter users.
Highjack existing hashtags.
Advertise young people’s rail cards as seen here.
Cavort around South East Asia in a pair of ridiculous swimming trunks.
Bum your kids.
Turn up at court looking suspiciously like me: