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.
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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