Profiles of Fake ALP-Promoting Astroturf Twitter Accounts

Grant Vandersee (@gvandersee) tweeted today about a series of fake Twitter accounts that appear to be sending the same pro-ALP message.

So there are fake accounts tweeting pro-#ALP messages. Trust #Labor to cheat & sneak around. #ausvotes pic.twitter.com/H3mR3LdI43

— Grant Vandersee (@gvandersee) August 19, 2013

 

I dove into some of these accounts and they are pretty interesting.

The first account to send out this tweet about #Jess_Rudd seems to have been @Kenneth_Ha_9123, with the tweet going out at 5:32pm, 18 Aug 13 via Mobile Web (M2).

This account is 33 days old, has only made 22 tweets (mostly nonsensical, randomly generated), has 150 followers (the majority of whom are also fake accounts), and is following 200, mostly authentic, accounts.

About 30 minutes later, at 6:05pm, @Doreatha_polski tweeted the exact same message, also from Mobile Web (M2). Interestingly, this account claims to be from the USA.

fake twitter ALPThis account is 135 days old, again full of randomly generated nonsense tweets and re-tweets, has 152 mostly fake followers, and is following 203 mostly authentic followers. 

About 30 minutes later, at 6:51pm, the account @5p5Odom sent the exact same tweet, also from Mobile Web (M2). This account claims to be from “Burnside borough, PA, USA”, has 153 fake followers, is following 208 and has made 29 random tweets since the account was created 105 days ago.

At 8:31pm, from Mobile Web (M2), @meghankwonm217 sent the same tweet. This account is also purportedly from the USA and has the same fake statistics and tweets.
So far, over the last 20 hours, there have been 14 such messages. Hardly enough to have much of an impact on anything. So who is sending them… and why?

Mobile Web (M2) would seem to be this SMS marketing outfit. They promote themselves as “the exclusive provider and deployment platform of text messaging for our partner M2 Systems. We are taking the mobile industry to a new level of marketing strategies for the booming handheld lifestyle.”

Has the ALP done a deal with Mobile Web M2 to run  an astroturfing persona management for the campaign? Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

And if the ALP is using persona management to try to influence the outcome of the election, what are the Liberals up to?

It reminds me of a book I’m nearly finished reading – Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez. It’s the story of drone warfare extrapolated to its obvious conclusion. Pretty terrifying stuff (and a great read).

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