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Tor Relays on Twitter

A while ago I played with a Twitter bot that would track radio amateurs using a packet radio position reporting system, tweet their location and a picture from Flickr that was taken near to their location and a link to their packet radio activity on aprs.fi. It’s really not that hard to put these things together and they can be a lot of fun. The tweets looked like this:

This isn’t about building a system that serves any critical purpose, it’s about fun. As the radio stations were chosen essentially at random, there could be some cool things showing up that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Maybe you’d spot a callsign of a station you’ve spoken to before on HF or perhaps you’d see stations in areas near you or in cool places.

On Friday evening I took a go at hacking together a bot for Tor relays. The idea being to have regular snippets of information from the Tor network and perhaps you’ll spot something insightful or interesting. Not every tweet is going to be amazing, but it wasn’t running for very long before I spotted a relay very close to its 10th birthday:

The relays are chosen at random, and tweet templates are chosen at random too. So far, tweets about individual relays can be about age or current bandwidth contribution to the Tor network. There are also tweets about how many relays run in a particular autonomous system (again, chosen at random) and tweets about the total number of relays currently running. The total relays tweets come with a map:

The maps are produced using xplanet. The Earth will rotate to show the current side in daylight at the time the tweet is posted.

Unfortunately, the bot currently cannot tweet as the account has been suspended. You should still be able to though and tweets will begin appearing again once I’ve resolved the suspension.

I plan to rewrite the mess of cron-activated Python scripts into a coherent Python (maybe Java) application and publish the sources soon. There are also a number of new templates for tweets I’d like to explore, including number of relays and bandwidth contributed per family and statistics on operating system diversity.

Update (2017-10-08): The @TorAtlas account should now be unsuspended.

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