Exposé of Johnson promo-bots leads to sinister wave of hacking attacks on Labour supporter account

Thousands of bots amplifying Tory PM’s tweets exposed by left-winger – but ‘revenge’ attempts follow swiftly

Excellent work by a left-wing Labour supporter has exposed a programme to make Boris Johnson’s social media appear more popular by using thousands of social media ‘bots’ to ‘like’ and share Johnson’s posts.

Chris Furlong spotted the pattern earlier this week and posted an initial identification of some examples of the fake accounts involved, asking “Who is paying for the many thousands in the Boris Bot Army?”:

Furlong has put out regular updates with further examples, including Russian and other foreign accounts:

But in a sinister twist that seems likely to be connected to the exposure of the fake accounts, several waves of attempts have been made to hack Furlong’s Twitter account – revealed by Twitter’s automated messages warning him that sign-on attempts have been made:

Furlong told the SKWAWKBOX that the sign-in attempts are sometimes occurring as often as every minute – and he believes they are definitely linked to the exposure of the fake accounts, which are multiplying faster than he can capture them – and adapting in an attempt to become harder to identify:

I am just getting the tip of the iceberg. I can only view I think about 50 Like/Retweet at a time, which are constantly uploading. So unless I get them within a few minutes I miss them.

There are literally thousands of them and they are very easy to spot, however, in the last twenty four hours I have noticed less of the accounts that have no pictures. They seemed to have picked up they are easy to spot.

The amount of dormant accounts that have just burst into life is amazing. Some with no activity at all for years now liking Johnson tweets. I have kept the thread going as it is so easy to pick them off.

The Tories have admitted paying a social media ‘army’

Furlong also vowed that the sinister attempts will not deter his efforts – and flagged a new phase of his project, identifying large numbers of pro-Trump bots that are suddenly joining in the amplification of Johnson’s output:

Their attempt to hack my account won’t put me off. I have started a new thread regards thousands of Trump-backing accounts suddenly turning their attention to Johnson which I will start to update tomorrow. The exposé will continue at pace.

The Tories have already been accused of engaging in mass campaigns using ‘bots’ and ‘sockpuppets’ (fake social media accounts) and have previously admitted employing an ‘army’ of paid social media users to amplify their message in an attempt to counter Labour’s natural grassroots strength on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The party has also spent huge amounts on paid social media advertising.

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  1. “Political prisoner” has such negative connotations I think we’ll have to think of something else to call the fuckers when we throw them in jail for subverting democracy.

    1. David…..good point but we have to jail the whole tory cabinet to stop them subverting democracy……just watch them use the royal prerogative to suspend the parliamentary wishes with brexit.You have put your finger on the attitude to democracy….Tory style subversion..

  2. Well thats a new one for adopting on here……sockpuppet…..have to get that spelling right comrades…..?…bots?I think lm getting too old for this jargon!

  3. Good work by Chris Furlong , this was to be expected , esp in the light of the excellent expose of Cambridge Analytica activities in the last election , see “The Great Hack” poss on Youtube or Netflix.

    The Tories are at it again with their propaganda , which is basically what this is , an attempt to influence the feeble minded . The best counter to it is to spread info like this far and wide.Perhaps it would be prudent for Labour to highlight these activities to the appropriate regulatory channels.
    At least it should be warning people about it on it’s website and twitter feeds .
    Why does it matter …. because the USA election was won by Trump because Cambridge Analytica used methods exactly like this to influence just 70,000 voters in just 4 states , that’s all it took to swing the vote to Trump .

  4. Don’t wish to be pedantic, but for clarity:

    ‘bot’ is short for ‘robot’ and it means an account that is the product of software, ie. it’s programmed to do Y in response to X tweeting. (Easy to spot)

    A ‘sock puppet’ is one fictional account among many, run by one person. The puppet accounts often act in concert to put on a show, ie. they will support each other attacking someone, start a fight, etc. It might be an IDF soldier purporting to be a housewife in New York justifying the bombing of Gaza. Or Mi6 purporting to be a dissident in Iran. Or a Tory PR company purporting to be a Johnson supporter in Liverpool. Or the UK govt creating a sense that everybody hates refugees as part of the hostile environment campaign

  5. Yet another reason NOT to do the likes of twotter, farcebook, etc.

    I don’t, never have, and never will. I mean, look at zuckerberg – just WHO would want to make that deadpan neoliberal enabler any more money than he already doesn’t deserve?

    1. Toffee fully agree….Don’t understand why anyone would wish to make it easy to help private corperations or government a free ticket to make profiles of individuals and family for commercial(health)or for security services to build a black list…….ps toffee………I am not a sockpuppet or Robbot…..does not compute…….does not compute……….does compute compute…….malfunction…

  6. News in the sense of a particular example of this manipulation – but not ‘news’ in the sense of being unexpected.

    A while back, there was some discussion of the need to educate children in the area of politics. Perhaps the greater need is education in the skills associated of critical awareness and discrimination about any printed or electronic media – including the (laughingly so-called) ‘social’.

    Since the referendum in particular, the evidence of manipulation has become too obvious to ignore. But the various telephone scams that we all suffer should be instructive re. the susceptibility of a significant proportion of the population to fake blandishments (‘Microsoft’ doesn’t keep calling just to get told to piss off).

    The fact that Mr Toad is a lying snake-oil salesman, with a habit of breaking into Latin to impress, is hardly news. But – after all his excrescence, and a performance so dire as Foreign Secretary as to beggar belief, he’s ended up as PM – a fact that tells you all you need to know about the pool of mass stupidity that exists as an instrument to be played by the unscrupulous.

    … and this despite all the rattle about ‘the public’ wanting ‘honest’ and ‘straightforward’ politicians.. Pull the other one – tatty X-factor politics is alive and well.

    1. If you’re referring to my comments on education RH I believe it’s important to teach people how to weigh evidence and discriminate truth from falsehood – how to think, not so much what to think – about politics or any other disputed issue.
      It’s too late for many though.
      Once infected with belief in gods, the paranormal, alien abductions, horoscopes or homeopathy, logic is as foreign as Etruscan.

  7. Labour left tweeted earlier this week on national debt bursting through the £2,000,000,000 barrier and make the point about austerity being over, methinks they may have missed the point like a few on here,
    What it indicates is that the cheap and nasty Tory party have no economic credibility whatsoever and they never did have,
    Aided and abetted by MSM and toilet papers, nothing they do is costed or fact checked
    Now in response allan howard one thing we have is an abundance of economically literate spokeswoman, forget Paul Mason who has gone full scale fuckwit
    They are brilliant and would all be on my list of Labour friendly media voices
    You cannot drive people and public services into the ground at the same time giving out tax cuts to the spivs and thieves who bank roll you
    The debt has increased by more than every other government combined under these economic Cockwombles

    1. “[The] Tory party have no economic credibility whatsoever and they never did have”

      Unfortunately, Doug, that’s not the case. Admittedly, the ‘credibility’ is of the sort that typifies the lack of wisdom of crowds, but a hell of a lot of people *still* believe Thatcher’s ‘housewife’s purse’ nonsense about economics. It won the 2010 election.

      1. RH
        You do accept that under the FPTP system it’s only a handful of voters in a small number of seats that make a huge difference
        They arnt called swing voters for nothing,
        My point is bring back Ed’s tombstone and have cheap and nasty Tory party are bankrupting the country, running off with your pension and forcing you to work till your 75, or words to that effect,
        There are better woman out there who can put it far more eloquently than you or I
        Then ad infinitum echo key messages at every oppurtunity, that’s how you change the narrative

    2. You missed out some noughts there Doug. £2000,000,000 is two thousand million or two billion, the projected 🙂 cost of developing the Tempest fighter jet.
      The national debt is closer to two trillion, or two million million – £2,000,000,000,000.

  8. Just an off-topic alert. The JVL website has just published a group of articles on aspects of the ‘antisemitism’ issue that are, again, of an excellent and wide-ranging standard. Of particular interest is a demolition of the IHRA ‘definition’ that the NEC so foolishly adopted under pressure :

  9. I appreciate and admire the honesty, diligence and bravery of JVL members and I’m working my way through those links.
    What I’d like to see more of is Jewish voices making the point that the danger to Jews, as ever, comes from the far right – not the left or the far left.
    Also that the only “danger” genuinely feared by “Labour antisemitism” propagandists is their lies and corruption being exposed.

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