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Jan 29, 2018 27 tweets 19 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
EXCLUSIVE The: #releasethememo Attack on Democracy - An Inside Look at a Bot Campaign

Today marks the 11th day of the bot army assault on democracy. #releasethememo has taken over social media.
1) Per Botcheck.me, #releasethememo is top trending #hashtag among 1500 known bots in the last 24 hrs - the rallying cry is also #1 per @securingdemocracy over the last 48 hrs
2) #releasethememo first appeared on Twitter 1/18/18. I'm not 100% certain, but this is the first use of the #hashtag I can find - at 1 PM PST from @clasimpmv -let me know of any earlier. Note ZERO RT's or favs - which I find very strange since thats not bot MO
3) I started by running some general analysis on bulk batches of tweets from 1/18/18 until today (1/29/18) - and I started to see some bots popping up more than others. These were disproportionately active compared to other bots.
4) The 3 accounts share some unique characteristics, and are trickier to identify - which is why they are followed by some prominent verified folks -some for different reasons I imagine..

Check out the active dates 2 from 2012 and 1 from 2008. Not sure what to make of this.
5) These bots have a significant amount of followers (although near 1:1 ratio followers:following). They weren’t created yesterday - all significant portions of their activity is very recent. The @username’s are even cleaner. No numbers at the end (user3998)
6) These “high quality” accounts are strategically used at higher rates - as they have a higher success rate of passing on misinformation. They also have high quality “followers” - and a RT would do wonders for their cause. These bots drive a significant portion of the traffic.
7) We all know that congressmen and many others got caught up liking, retweeting and following bot accounts - what we often don’t consider is the harm these peoples’ mere “following” does to our democracy and the fight against misinformation.
8) When people see that these accounts are following verified congressmen and television anchors - the sources are given a sense of legitimacy - albeit a false one.
9) A false sense of legitimacy is only more dangerous today - as we struggle as a society to tell truth from lie. This thread is only based on fact - and the purpose is to show the dangers and lengths others are going to spread division and misinformation.
10) The entire purpose of the bot army is to flood the twittersphere with so much misinformation that we don’t know which way is up - and they’re good at it. All they need is content. That’s where the right wing media comes into play..
11) Check out the top visited URL’s and domains according to @securingdemocracy. The usual players -, Breitbart, TruePundit etc. Hannity makes frequent appearances on these list.. I encourage all to check them out: botcheck.me - dashboard.securingdemocracy.org
12) Let’s take a look at my findings - I chose to zero in on tweets from 3 of the more active bots -

First, these guys got busy ever since #releasethememo was invented.
13) #releasethememo was systematically rolled out - by bots - and later (less than 8 hrs later) adopted Congressmen - notably @RepMattGaetz and @Jim_Jordan
14) Check Rep Jordan’s post and note the time - about 7 hours after the bots created the campaign - Jordan’s 1st use of the #hashtag. Also note the traction that video from @repmarkmeadows - over 48k RT’s and 68k likes - this video was of course a fav among bots
15) Now check out @repmattgaetz first use of the infamous #releasethememo - just about 40 mins after @jim_jordan - almost like they coordinated it - and after the bot army spent all afternoon convincing the country that people actually cared about - or even knew about such a memo
16) Let’s take another look at that first #releasethememo tweet - now look at Gaetz first post about “the memo” at all -47 minutes apart - without using #releasethememo. Why did @repmattgaetz do this, and now?
17) The 3 mentioned bots “high quality” have tweeted with the hashtag 1,567 times since the campaign kicked off. The amazing thing about these bots istheir reach - utilizing their combined over 26k followers. The most staggering statistic is the amount of retweets generated.
18) The propaganda was retweeted 631,666 times overall. The 1,567 tweets to over 26k users delivered over 41 million pieces of propaganda
19) Let’s take a look at the MVP: @Palinspired - created 12/10/08 - over 17k followers

Followed By: @RyanAFournier, @RickWTyler, @SenateGOP, @GeneralFlynn, @LamarsmithTX21, @marcorubio, @charliekirk11, @corybooker

One of the first #releasethememo tweeters
20) @Heleneafernande - created 9/2/12 - over 1,300 followers. Let’s take a break to note the photo of the child - does anyone recognize this kid? This IS NOT RIGHT -you cannot take pictures of other people's’ children and passing them off as US citizens worthy of an opinion.
21) @BooBooNyc - created 10/31/12 over 7k followers.

Followed by @GeneralFlynn
22) Summary Findings: All 3 of these accounts are followed by True Pundit’s @Thomas1774Paine. These accounts saw a significant increase in volume since the coordinated #releasethememo campaign beginning 1/18/18 at around 1 PM CST.
23) @palinspired lifetime avg tweets per week are 208 - but have averaged 444 since the campaign started (per @Botometer and @IndianaUniv).

@Heleneafernande increased weekly avg from 139 to *913*

@booboonyc increased from 219 to 737 tweets per week.
24) Bots and GOP congressmen began using the #releasethememo almost simultaneously. The 2 entities are further intertwined by their “following” relationships - which give these completely fake and divisive bots a false image of legitimacy.
CONCLUSION: I hope this was somewhat helpful in understanding the ongoing attack on our democracy. We have not seen the bots operating at these levels for #releasethememo since the campaign. We must do everything we can to make sure REAL AMERICAN VOICES are heard.
PS - a recurring theme is the hours these bots work - highest volumes between 9-11 AM EST - then again 3-7 PM.

The 3 I tracked would post 5-8 times in 10 min spans during these hours

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More from @pulsecheckmedia

Feb 1, 2018
Exclusive: Watch the birth of a bot!!

Step 1: Create an account - notice @scootersaunders & @kelliebitter - Kell was born last month, but Scooter was born today, happy birthday!
Step 2:

Find a friend -

It's hard to make friends when you're 1 day old, so you call @RyanAFournier - who will follow you. Then Ryan's friend Kellie comes to play too. Notice it says 4 followers - but only shows 2 because 'you won't see suspected spam..'
Step 3: #followback

The bot to bot interaction is highly understated. Bots have bot friends - bots love to communicate with each other - RT/Fav etc

The next step is to follow the people you just met - so you follow ryan back

Notice Kellz and Scooter both follow each other
Read 9 tweets

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