Erin Gallagher Profile picture
Disinformation researcher, Technology and Social Change Project @TaSCResearch @ShorensteinCtr

Oct 1, 2018, 36 tweets

OK my @medium account got "caught in the spam filter" & has been restored so let me try this #thread again. I've been working for several months on a series of blogs explaining trolling & botting tactics used by 4chan during the election. #ContentWarning: medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Several months ago @elimisteve from @PursuanceProj found a series of pastebins and sent them to me. 4chan trolls studied learned graphic design software to make memes, memetic warfare and botting to troll the election. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

The 1st part is an 8chan thread by someone who claimed to have worked in the marketing & advertising industry. The explain various components of effective graphic design & instructions for /pol/ to “normalize” their message to blend in with the normies. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Does this sound familiar: “what is trendy today is being the victim, so if you play your cards correctly you can probably create a promotional video with some similarities that burger kike or any other jew media applies.”  medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… Oh and they also hate jews. #CW

They used Hillary Clinton's style guide to mass produce memes. They also used shocking images to "literally be the hate machine we're known as." And they were pretending to be "normies" so these accounts would not have appeared to be trolls. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… #CW

"Pick hot girl instagram accounts and rip their pics. pic twitter accounts and rip all their tweets and make them your own. Don't be lazy. Make them look legit. It's important." medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… #CW

Various links for free bots and paid bots as well as bulk paid accounts and proxies to run all the fake accounts... medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

This next part will make all the journalists who follow me cringe. "Lead unethical reporters on wild goose chases" and "Submit anti hillary story leads to helpareporter.com" They were trolling the media too. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

“Don’t post anything pro-Trump — we are anti-Hillary and pro-Bernie. You can talk a bit about Trump in negative light, but your focus is on uncovering Hillary’s dirt for the Bernsters and the negros.” medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

They used techniques of KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov to subvert "the (((leftist))) system via social media." medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… this was a full scale propaganda campaign to troll the election

"The whole operation is about getting lost in the noise, just being a normal negro/Bernfag." - 4chan trolls posed as normal accounts during the election. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

One website where they bought their bots was called "Buy Accs" - the same website @josephfcox purchased a "Russian bot army" for less than $100 thedailybeast.com/i-bought-a-rus… if you buy bots online you'll probably get Russian bots b/c that's what websites selling bots have in inventory.

"Connecting social media and pushing content 101 & 102" explains how it worked. They used an android emulator to run mobile apps on a desktop to operate multiple accounts at once & opened fake accounts across multiple platforms and connected them together medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

“Always keep the ratio of 5 normal posts 1–2 political" again they were trying to blend in. They automated content posting to all platforms with IFTTT and used Buffer to schedule posts 5 to 10 times per day medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Apparently @instagram is very easy to create fake accounts but they had to post manually so they saved their "important memes" for Instagram. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

They used a website called addmefast to get likes, retweets and followers and make their accounts look more normal. Addmefast was mentioned in this article by @Bernstein about a troll named "Microchip" who used the same service buzzfeednews.com/article/joseph…

They were also using a service called @instagress (shut down in 2017) to "spam likes, follows and comments" to build up their Instagram profiles medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

After sifting through these pastebins & various 4chan threads for the past few months, I was able to locate some of these fake accounts. Meet @NubianAwakening. He was the largest fake BLM account I found so far. I made a #dataviz of 4 months of his tweets. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Here was the first clue I found to track this guy down. I searched thru tweets in Hillary Clinton's mentions that mentioned the words "raising awareness" and found this tweet that was tweeted in early July medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

They were pushing their memes to large accounts, and it worked. They also studied Edward Bernays, I'll get into that in awhile here, but using emotions to hook people with short messages... emotional marketing tactics. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Here are the hashtags this fake BLM account used during the few months his account was active: #NeverHillary, #LockHerUp, #DemExit and #JillNotHill top the list: medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Here's a fake "Bernie bro" @BernieSorBust who didn't properly normify his account by adding a profile picture to make it look less like a spam bot. Fake Bernie bro tweeted the same meme as @NubianAwakening into #ComeyHearing medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Fake #BLM account @TB_Ncore stole his profile photo from Kwasi Enin, a student who received some media attention in 2014 for getting accepted to all 8 Ivy League schools medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Another fake #BLM account @Davonlifematter used a stock photo as his profile pic and also interacted with @nubianawakening: medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

There are more fake accounts I found but since this thread is rather long now I'll move on to "Meme Division Resources" medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… which contains tons of resources for psyops & memetic warfare including psychological operations manuals for the US Army and GCHQ

I just want to add this blog by "Theødor" to the thread because it's really fascinating. I think some of these trolls genuinely considered this propaganda operation a game. medium.com/tryangle-magaz…

Also interesting, some of the "resources" they linked in "Meme Division Resouces" include publications from CANVAS - formerly known as OTPOR - who basically train protesters to "topple dictators" to quote founder Srdja Popovic's Ted Talk. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Also given what I read in US Military documents about memetic warfare, I'd be very surprised if they didn't recognize what was happening during the election considering these trolls were literally following their handbook medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

OK fast forward to July 2017. Trump tweets a GIF and @CNN threatens to dox the GIF creator, starting what became known as the Great CNN Meme War or Operation Autism. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… I downloaded 20K #MemeWar tweets, never published #dataviz for that hashtag until today.

One thing that was notable in #MemeWar was the loong list of sources used by various users to tweet this hashtag. It's normal to have a few tweets from TweetDeck or similar apps, but this many sources in one hashtag is odd medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… perhaps they diversified tactics?

There were also lots of fake, brand new accounts in #MemeWar that only tweeted this hashtag and have been silent since. Like Kendrick E. Kornes (@kendrickek77) aka "KEK" medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Something interesting about Mr. Kornes, he followed a bunch of German accounts. This will tie in a little later but these kinds of sock puppet attacks are something that the German far right also use & were documented by @UR_Ninja: /medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

Another interesting factoid, the conservative political marketing firm @AppSame which I documented in #QAnon & several other hashtags was in the top of the Influencer index for #MemeWar: medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… they had a lot more followers in 2017.

Here's the user-to-user network for #MemeWar. @jojoh888 has preemptively blocked me lol. That account only tweeted 13 tweets over a period of 5 days but those tweets went super viral which is why their account looks so massive. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

I have one more blog in this series and the OP is still active. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe… trolls spread propaganda for AfD & fake posters against other German political parties using racist, fear-mongering, anti-immigration images & even repurposed some terrorist propaganda.

“We have the advantage of being an anonymous swarm with a singular goal. We don’t have to play fair. We can say and spread whatever we want.” I think people may still underestimate 4chan but a determined swarm of trolls has impact on the whole network. medium.com/@erin_gallaghe…

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