Mike Hind Profile picture
Sep 8, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read
A simple thread on the amplification of disinformation on Twitter, using fake accounts & automation. Also known as astroturfing. Read on, if you want to bolster your digital media literacy.
Meet @/shocker_daily, a low rent 'alternative news' provider.
2. You'll notice I use the / to prevent amplifying @/shocker_daily myself. Like naughty children, bad actors like this thrive on any attention, negative or otherwise. All attention helps them come to prominence in Twitter's promotion algorithm.

Don't help them, right?
3. These actors will typically insert themselves into the mentions of prominent figures & 'influencers' - frequently journalists.

They want to give the impression of a 'grassroots' response on their chosen talking point. To fool the journalist & his/her followers.
4. So, when @tnewtondunn tweeted this, it was game on for @/shocker_daily to infect Tom's replies with its chosen counter-narrative.
5. But @/shocker_daily is a low reach account, so it also runs a number of fake Twitter accounts to automatically amplify what it says.

In this case we can see that it possibly uses a service called IFTTT (hat tip @conspirator0 for this insight).
6. The giveaway is the insertion by IFTTT of 'RT @/shocker_daily' at the front of the tweet.

And so the faked response to Tom, in apparent agreement with @/shocker_daily begins.

His mentions begin filling up with the desired talking point.
7. This goes on and on, with more 'bots' (nothing particularly sinister - just fake accounts, controlled by a bit of code) joining in & even amplifying each other.
8. If you do a search for @/shocker_daily you'll find it does this all the time.

It's easy to set this up & can have legit purposes, as this marketing person explains.
9. Legit or not, I personally hate this approach, but the point is it's not always done for nefarious purposes. In the case above, Sam just wants to save himself a bit of time.

But @/shocker_daily wants to pollute the information space. That is NOT legitimate.
10. So, what to do about this?

It's mainly a case of what NOT to do.

Don't get drawn in to amplifying these astroturfing operations. Don't share them (except via screen shots), don't 'debate' with them (ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A PROMINENT JOURNALIST) & don't fall for their shtick
11. If you're interested in understanding more about astroturfing, sock puppetry etc & how to inoculate yourself against its worst effects, follow some of my favourite insight sources like @conspirator0 @mentionmapp @3r1nG @RVAwonk & subscribe to my '#disinformation list.
12. If you enjoy stories of takedowns on dodgy accounts, you'll find more in my Twitter Moments.
Postscript: @shocker_daily page now deleted. Here's more on how rubbish it was, in a thread by @conspirator0
RIP. But the website is still there. Writing nonsense about 'the Skirpals'

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More from @MikeH_PR

Oct 9, 2018
To be fair, this has always been a problem in relying on the interference by Russia as a reason to invalidate the referendum. This is because evidence of intent is not the same as evidence of effect...
As the work of leading researchers in the field @toledobastos & @DanMercea - published here by the Royal Society - suggests
So, although the efforts of Russia to destabilise society in the West by polluting discourse are well understood, the actual impact on Britons who voted to leave the EU is, it seems, more theoretical than proven.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 8, 2018
Met an English guy near me who gave up his decorating business in London 15 years ago. Says it was due to the influx of talented, hard-working, cheap Polish competition. Remain has never had a story to tell to these people, who shouldered the cost of FoM.
Incidentally, he appears not to regret this or have a particular chip on his shoulder. Went out of his way to say they were great. It's just how it was.

I have never seen these realities acknowledged except in the most insulting ways by enthusiastic Remain types though.
Being a niche player in the labour market myself, I never had this problem. But it was real for many people. And dismissing their real life experience with statistics was never going to wash.
Read 6 tweets
May 29, 2018
Yaxley-Lennon isn't thick. He's learned what works in the current climate.

He knew he'd be arrested.

You're seeing an operation unfolding.

The 'citizen journalism' thing is a perfect pivot from laddish street activist. There is a smart strategic organisation behind him.
The massed ranks of Twitter supporters have been primed by all the usual online 'news' sources.

It reeks of a carefully orchestrated guerrilla operation to probe for weaknesses in our confidence in the law of the land.

Notice how it is being cheer-led from America.
Britain is still the Petri dish for the Breitbart doctrine.

We are seeing a disinformation operation by the American far right in the inception of a UK cultural civil war.

On his release Yaxley-Lennon will go on the stump with Trump, confirming no-go zones & sharia takeover
Read 4 tweets
Mar 12, 2018
Apropos of the sensitivities over Cable’s ‘white nostalgia’ line, some observations on what we all know about types of Brexit voter.

1. We know age was a major determining factor in Leave vs Remain. This cannot be disputed.
2. We know that allegiance to the 2 main parties clearly delineates support or otherwise for Brexit. This cannot be disputed.
3. We know that ‘liberal’ vs ‘authoritarian’ personal values (eg support for or opposition to capital punishment) align closely with 2016 ref voting stances
Read 13 tweets
Feb 8, 2018
1. A bit of digital media literacy help, for those who might be interested.

Calling out @RayFletcher1955 as a fake Brexit account.

Ray pretended tonight to be new to Twitter
2. Also pretends to be ex-Forces. AKA ‘stolen valour’.
3. ‘Ray’ spends most of his time deploying all the usual tropes of the right. Weak attempts to ‘trigger’ ‘libs’, basically.
Read 10 tweets
Feb 3, 2018
1. Involved in another of those Twitter ‘debates’ yesterday in which pragmatic anti-Brexit people like Jon tried to explain to ardent Remainers that Brexit itself is not the defining political issue for many downtrodden people
2. This point about the refusal by many to countenance that fact is well made.
3. A favourite argument from Remainers is that the poor will be hit hardest. That may well be so, but it misses the point of why C2, D, E people voted in line with the selfish, comfortably off retired
Read 13 tweets

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