Ben Nimmo Profile picture
Aug 15, 2018 15 tweets 5 min read
Thread: If you want to know how fake likes, loves and follows get industrialised on #Facebook, here's a good example from #Brazil.

The fakes boosted hyper-partisan posts in Mexico ahead of the election.

Fake engagement's an international business.

medium.com/dfrlab/electio…
Here are the reactions to two hyper-partisan Mexican posts, on different pages.

Note the number of accounts in common. Looks like an organised brigade.
Following the traces of the brigade led back to this account. Note the letters PCSD, which are diagnostic for this particular network.
PCSD had a number of pages. Its stated purpose?

“To bring together all Facebook page managers to exchange knowledge, negotiations and profits using the social network.”

Profits. This was an industrial engagement-trading community.
The amazing thing is how overt the organisation was.

Here's a member posting a receipt for the sale of a page. About the platform, on the platform.
Here's proof that one of the members sold a share of a post.

Left, the post confirming the transaction. Right, the share.

Even the accompanying text and emoji were part of the deal.
This one showed the sale of a page.
This one recorded the sale of a page with 121k likes for 300 reals (just under $100 at the time).

Gives you an idea of going prices in the marketplace.
And here's a sale of 10k likes for $60.

Shows how cheap it is to control thousands of accounts.
It wasn't limited to Facebook. This one recorded a trade of an Instagram account.
Another one recorded the sale of a Twitter account.

This one even traded $250 Paypal for $200 cash. Hell of a conversion rate.
The group was self-policing. One of its pages recorded sanctions against members who broke the rules.

Here's one who got banned for failing to follow through on a deal.
Here's another who got banned in perpetuity for "several robbery attempts."

Trust and reputation matter in shadow economies like this.
This was part of a much bigger network which @Facebook took down this morning.

Five pages, 50 accounts, 72 groups.

politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/eleic…
It's an international market, monetising likes, follows, pages and shares.

Brazil isn't the end of the trail. /

Thread ends.

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More from @benimmo

Oct 9, 2018
Thread: just a snapshot of the increasing polarisation of the US Twittersphere ahead of the midterms.

Polarised communities proved to be an easy target for influence operations in 2014-18.

medium.com/dfrlab/electio…
Scanned three sets of paired election-related hashtags: #VoteRed / #VoteBlue, #RedWave2018 / #BlueWave2018, #FlipItRed / #FlipItBlue.

First scan covered 48 hours. Overall, pro-Democratic hashtags got significantly higher traffic (79k posts compared with 47k posts).
On this scan, users of pro-Democratic hashtags were roughly double the number of users on pro-Republican hashtags (40k users compared with 21k users).
Read 6 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
I mentioned the Kremlin's standard response technique of dismiss, distort, distract, dismay.

Quite a few of the elements are here, in the latest Russian MFA responses to the OPCW / GRU hacking story.

mid.ru/en/foreign_pol…
Dismiss: insult the critics. Plenty of that in the statement.

"Anti-Russian spy mania."
"Strong paranoia." (Not just "paranoia", you'll note.)
"Absurd anti-Russian attacks."
Interestingly, they didn't use the word "Russophobia" in this one, though it's been the bulwark of Kremlin defences since 2014.
Read 7 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
#OPCW hacking case: we've already had the Russian government trying to dismiss the latest UK / NL claims about the #GRU. That's tactic number 1.

Up next, expect attempts to distort, distract and dismay.
Distort. We saw this with the Skripal suspects, portrayed as "civilians" and snow-shy tourists.

Expect attempts to say that the photos were faked, the evidence was made up, and / or the men were harmless visitors on a diplomatic visit to fix the Embassy wifi.
Distract. Accuse the accusers.

Expect the arguments, "The West hacks people too," or "You killed civilians in Libya / Afghanistan / Vietnam / insert name here."

Which doesn't justify use of CW on civilians, or attempts to cover it up.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
#TrollTracker: interesting troll spike from the pro-Kremlin / pro-Assad gang against @janinedigi.

Image: @Sysomos scan of traffic over the past 7 days.
For those who don't know @janinedigi, here's a list of her awards as a war correspondent.

She reported from places including Grozny, Kosovo, Palestine, Rwanda, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: janinedigiovanni.com/awards-and-rec…
Here's the tweet which triggered the storm: a post saying that RT and Sputnik are not journalists.

That's a hell of a call for a genuine award-winning journalist to make, so let's look at evidence.
Read 11 tweets
Sep 6, 2018
Rare decision from @Ofcom here, finding broadcaster Ausaf UK no longer "fit and proper" to hold a licence.

Note that RT is also under scrutiny against the "fit and proper" criteria, but that Ofcom sets a high bar for these decisions.

ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/…
Particularly striking: Ausaf TV had its licence revoked before it started broadcasting, based on the content of the associated newspaper.

Including glorification of violent jihad and endorsement of listed terrorists.
Rather unwisely, the MD of the TV station initially denied that he was linked to the newspaper, then confirmed that he was.

Making false claims to the regulator is seldom a way to win confidence.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 6, 2018
Looks like someone tried to get hashtag SkripalHoax to trend overnight.

822 mentions. It really didn't do very well.
Let's look at some of the arguments.

Probably the most popular in the pro-Kremlin crowd was the claim that the Met Police photos of the arrival in Gatwick had the same timestamp, and therefore must have been photoshopped.
... unless there's more than one arrival channel at Gatwick, and they were walking together.

(h/t @bleidl for the photo)
Read 10 tweets

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