Looks like the dumb housewife has struck again.
Last year I had a sneaking suspicion that there was something very phony about Trump’s most active Twitter followers. I’d see people — some of them prominent journalists and public figures — get in weird debates with Trump supporters. But there was something really strange about these supporters. They always had 32 supporters or 32,000 — no middle ground. They universally had “Deplorable” in their names and the #MAGA hashtag in their bios. Their profiles usually represented a minority of some kind — African Americans, Hispanics, women, etc. — i.e., people who were not supposed to be Trump supporters, according to conventional wisdom (and polls). Their bio pics were always extremely physically attractive, not a dog in the litter. And their Twitter feeds were all virtually identical. They all repeated the same pro-Trump lines, and re-Tweeted each other. Many were re-Tweeted by Trump himself. It was all just a little too “straight out of Central Casting” for me, and my bullshit meter went off. I finally wrote about it here.
Since then we’ve learned more about Trump/Russia’s use of social media to spread Trump memes. The goal is to establish the idea that Trump’s agenda and Trumpism in general is more widely accepted among Americans than it actually is. Another goal is to attack opponents — Hillary during the campaign, but post-inauguration, the tactic is deployed against anyone opposing Trump.
Why Twitter? Because our idiotic news media uses Twitter as its assignment editor. There are news shows that literally cover “trending topics” like they’re real things. Last week a WSMV morning news report had the “breaking news” (not making this up) that Trump Tweeted five times overnight. So it’s important to remind everyone that Twitter is often fake, and Trump’s Twitter in particular is super fake. Trump-related Twitter activity does not equate with support for his regime.
For example, a Twitter audit reveals that over one quarter of Trump’s Twitter followers are fakes:
This isn’t necessarily Trump’s fault, as bots and zombies can attach themselves to anyone without the account holder knowing about it. But when this zombie bot army is Tweeting identical pro-Trump messages, it’s not out of line to question what the hell is going on. For example, see this string of identical Tweets from different pro-Trump accounts. Hmmm …
And there’s this from Facebook (I know I’m talking primarily about Twitter here but the same shit goes on over at Facebook):
Just before the inauguration Forbes did an analysis of Trump’s Twitter following and found not only are there an unusually large percentage of zombies and bots, but the majority of accounts are not U.S.-based:
In Trump’s case, many of those followers come from Moscow or elsewhere in Russia, India, Nigeria and Latin American countries, primarily Venezuela and Mexico. It’s not surprising that our PEOTUS is followed by people around the world, but those people should not be counted as part of Trump’s electoral base in the U.S.
If you limit the scope of analysis to accounts of users who self-identify as living in the United States, those 20 million total followers worldwide become more like 3 million active domestic Twitter users who included a location setting in their Twitter profile, and thus are likely to represent actual people and businesses. Affinio says they often see large shifts in audience size by applying this kind of geography filter.
So of Trump’s 20 million followers, only 3 million represent actual Americans. That’s … pathetic. Mashable recently noted:
It’s been estimated that up to 80 percent of Trump’s Twitter traffic is perpetuated by bots, singing his praises and hawking Trump-related merchandise. The most famous item they sold was a now-infamous “Liberal Tears” mug.
Tolulope Edionwe at The Outline uncovered that the mugs were a scam, with many customers never receiving their much-desired liberal-shaming swag.
As the Mashable piece explained, a change in Twitter’s mobile app has made the creation of spambots moot. They’re still there, but not as prominent. But of course, whenever technology creates a wall, savvy manipulators figure out how to build ladders.
I have long suspected that a major reason Trump was so enamored with Twitter in the first place is because it’s so easy to manipulate. It’s so easy to create an army of adoring followers on Twitter, which is what Trump craves. And who knows, maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s someone smarter than him — a Steve Bannon type, maybe — who’s figured out how to pull Turmp’s strings by using bots to up the “likes” on whatever asinine thought comes to him at 3 a.m. I don’t know if he’s using Twitter as part of a massive propaganda campaign or an ego gratification campaign or if someone else is using it to manipulate him; regardless, it’s time everyone wised up and started acting accordingly.
So, I don’t want to hear any more “breaking news” about trending topics, or Trump Tweets. If Trump wants to threaten opponents with his Twitter army, bring it on: the “army” is fake. It’s one thing for the news media to cover the latest cute kid viral video, but when this stuff involves our acting leader, and the information affects world events, the news media needs to seriously check itself.