President Tiny Hands has said innumerable times, mostly during the debates, that his Twitter followers are “supporters”, and with his seriously awful poll numbers recently, he seems to be getting desperate for a “boost” in his popularity.
A bit of background: being newish to Twitter, one of my regular check-in’s is The Jester, who is anonymous, but who has a substantial following (197K), is respected by the DHS (questionable if that is a compliment), was one of Time’s 30 Most Influential Internet-People of 2015, etc. He has hacked many, many ‘anti-US’ accounts such as the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oct. ‘16, and trolls jackasses like the Westboro Baptist Church. He hates Edward Snowden and believes he is a traitor (sniff), but thinks Louise Mensch is a kook, so that also adds to his credibility, imho. He's a Republican, but a “never-Trumper.”
All that aside, The Jester thinks Trump is up to something nefarious, as Trump’s Twitter followers have grown exponentially--7 million since February and 2.3 million just in the month of May. The other notable factoid is that more than half of them are fake. Fake accounts are nothing new, but this seems to be quite a large surge.
Malcom Nance, intelligence expert and former Navy Senior Chief, best-selling NYT author, intelligence analyst, and all-around amazing individual, concurs with The Jester, and publicly warned of a Russian bot-war.
More on Nance and The Jester in a moment, but this is the skinny on bots. Bot’s can be easily distinguished against legitimate Tweets when viewed together:
A bot will write on Twitter in clunky English, reciting paragraphs of propaganda or fake news in compartmentalized tweets, often featuring rudimentary linguistics and nondescript profiles
However, when there is a big story, or when the President tweets, a veritable army of “Trump supporters” (bots) emerge, spewing fake data, and—fake news.
Another strange pattern emerges as well: Twitter users who deplore Trump have noticed their accounts mysteriously switched to “follow” The Donald, even when the person has never signed up for that, or even in some cases have switched from “unfollow” to “follow.” More on that below in the Tweets posted.
Bot armies are excellent tools for propaganda and social media influence-peddling:
“A bot army can be utilized for a number of dishonest purposes, chief amongst them, misrepresenting public sentiment about whichever topics the controller has interest in," Brad Hayes, fellow at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab's Interactive Robotics Group, told NY Daily News Saturday. "If 3 million people started tweeting in favor of or against a particular topic, would it shift public perception? What if those same 3 million people targeted every source you use for information? It's fair to say that this kind of written 'show of force' can certainly alter perceptions."
“Over time, such action, known as ‘astroturfing,’ can "contribute to a fundamental shift in perception of the topic, with those with dissenting views perhaps not feeling comfortable replying against a vast majority, creating a feedback loop," added Hayes, who rose to prominence in bot circles after he created a Twitter bot using an AI algorithm mimicking Trump's prior tweets and statements that almost identically resembled Trump's own "@RealDonaldTrump" account.
"You can use your botnet to drown out dissenting opinions or to exhaust your target's ability to respond to legitimate calls for response," he explained.
As we have learned, the Russians are particularly good at flooding social media outlets with bots, and have been active since at least 2014. Now there seems to be a direct correlation between Donald Trump’s Tweets and the huge uptick of propaganda/misinformation that either undermines the U.S.:
"The Russians have used social media-driven information campaigns to discredit the U.S. for years," Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Center For Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University, said during a testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee in May. "Facebook and Twitter remain littered with pro-Russian, Western-looking accounts and supporting automated bots designed to undermine the credibility of the U.S. government."
or directly benefits Donald Trump:
The first obvious signs of Trump's bot army going to war against the left during his presidency occurred during his first major speech to a joint session of Congress, the most-tweeted joint address in American history. Politico reported thousands of bots overtaking the #JointAddress hashtag used throughout the speech, spreading a far-right Twitter poll from the conservative nonprofit Secure America Now and railing against "radical Islamic terrorism."
Russia/Putin’s bot army is designed to impose yet another vice-grip on our Democracy by flooding Twitter discourse with fake people, numbers, support, and influence, in order to weaken the U.S. and to prop up his puppet, Donald Trump.
The Jester Tweets and R/T’s:
Malcom Nance Tweets and R/Ts:
Something those who Tweet should learn to do: run a Twitter-audit.