Tag Archives: Social Media

This Is Your Periodic Reminder That Trump’s Twitter Is Fake

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:

twitteraudit

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):

c3zdtetweaajsh2-jpg-large-1

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.

9 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump, media, Social Media

Real? Or Not Real?

[UPDATE]:

Samantha Bee is on the case.

Frequently when walking our youngest dog Willie we have to play a game I call “Real? Or not real?”

Willie is the most skittish pup I’ve ever met (especially since he’s a ginormous, scary-looking pit bull/Lab mix). He’s a real marshmallow inside though, and is terrified of new things that appear in his space. Once it was a shopping cart that had somehow landed at the end of our street; he wouldn’t get within 15 feet of it for a week. Another time it was a beat-up VW Bug parked on the street that had never been there before. Balloons in front of an open house are extremely suspect, as are the Halloween decorations my neighbors have put up in their yards: those ghosts and witches hanging from trees that catch the breeze are too real for Willie. He’s sure they’re monsters come to life.

So, on our walks I often have to spend 5 or 10 minutes playing “real, or not real?” We get as close to the offending inanimate object as possible, I touch it, let him sniff my hand, we eventually get closer, repeat the touch and sniff, until finally he feels safe enough to sniff it on his own. Once he realizes it’s not real and not dangerous, he’s okay. Sometimes it takes more than one round of “real or not real” for him to walk past the object without fear. He’s still not convinced those Halloween decorations aren’t real. I understand why he thinks that; some of them look pretty real to me, too.

I bring all of this up because we have our own little version of “real, or not real” playing out on social media, influencing our national discourse and possibly our elections. I’ve noticed it with Donald Trump’s campaign, or at least people supporting his campaign, and if you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen it too: hundreds, maybe thousands, of fake Twitter accounts, many of which look and behave impossibly real, spreading the Trump message du jour, ginning up outrage where none probably exists, and driving the news narrative for the next 48 hours, days, or weeks.

How can you tell who is real and who is fake? It’s not easy. I’ve learned to spot a few clues: people with either absurdly few followers (and who aren’t following anyone), or non-famous people with tens of thousands of followers are big giveaways. Bio photos of young women with “Hollywood” looks are another clue: the hair and makeup are professionally done, the pose is staged, the outfit is professionally styled, etc. This tells me the bio photo was skimmed from a stock house or long-defunct ad campaign. Many of them have the word “Deplorable” in their handles now, a way of reinforcing the false outrage that Hillary calling them Deplorable was just the most offensive, terrible thing ever.

I don’t know where these fake people have come from; frankly, I’ve come to suspect a lot are tied to White Nationalists groups, as these folks seem to have figured out how to use social media as a manipulation tool. I find the whole thing absurd, and fascinating, and frightening.

Here’s an example: Meet Melissa, (now called Deplorable Melissa)

deplorable-melissa

Something seemed fishy to me about this lovely young woman; maybe it was the Pinned Tweet (they all have Pinned Tweets). Maybe it was that her Twitter feed consists almost entirely of re-Tweets. Maybe it was the professionally done hair and makeup, the “head-shot” pose. This looked like a photo skimmed from an old Revlon ad. So I did a reverse image search. I didn’t get any hits from ads, but I did get several links to suspended Twitter accounts. And one of the earliest suspended accounts had this photo as its bio image:

april-2016

Notice the background, the type of backdrop typically found at an entertainment industry red carpet event. The logo appears to be for something called “Sassy Sweet,” a name so generic it returned dozens of hits, from a line of hair care products to a franchise for little girl’s parties.

So, is Deplorable Melissa a real person? I don’t know, but I’m going to guess not. Over time her bio pic has been cropped and recropped, lost a background, her account has been suspended, she doesn’t Tweet anything original. I’m going to guess this photo was skimmed from Facebook or an old magazine. I could be wrong. There are people far smarter than me, with far better tools, who could figure this out in 5 minutes.

What I do know is, fakery on social media is being used by political campaigns to dupe the media and general public into thinking a message or idea has more support than it actually does.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “So, Beale, basically you’re telling us that stuff on the internet is fake? What next, water is wet?”

Yes, I get that. My point is that in this case, the “not real” is becoming “real,” simply by virtue of its existence. Get enough of these fake Twitter accounts Tweeting and re-Tweeting whatever the VRWC wants people to get hot and bothered about, and it quickly filters from the “not real” to the “real.” Case in point: the “rigged election” meme. It started with Donald Trump repeating “it’s rigged! Rigged, I tell you!” at every campaign event. It was then repeated by hundreds of fake bots and Twitter accounts, ended up on some timelines of real people, and before you know it, they start re-Tweeting it too. Suddenly the idea that election is rigged appears to have substantial support among actual voters.

Did any significant number of people out there seriously believe the election is rigged until the idea was planted in their heads? Doubtful.

And now the news media, which uses socials media as its assignment editor, is reporting on Trump supporters talking about a rigged election. This is the idea which has now been inserted into the national narrative: the process has been tainted, the election now has a pall of illegitimacy surrounding it, you can’t trust the institution. All of these ideas simply weren’t there in any significant way until very recently (hell, I remember the idea of electronic voting machines being hackable was considered a lefty fringe thing a few years ago). Now we have real people like this guy in Cincinnati saying Hillary Clinton “needs to be taken out if she gets in the government” and, “if I have to be a patriot, I will.” Secretaries of State around the country, including Tennessee’s own Trey Hargett — a Republican! — must deny the “rigged” claims.

We now have the news cycle driven by the “rigged election” meme. This is allowed to happen because our political news coverage is almost entirely driven by process stories, with very little time or effort devoted to substance. So the political press can report on the “rigged” story and whose campaign it’s most likely to hurt and what the longterm impacts of such a claim might be, etc. etc. But has anyone bothered to ask if any actual vote rigging has occurred? I read on Twitter that all across the country, “illegal immigrants” are voting and dead people are voting. It’s happening everywhere, you guys! I know ‘cuz I saw it on Facebook!

Except it’s not happening. It’s not even real. Absent any evidence of actual “rigging,” all of this seems to have been cooked up in Donald Trump’s tiny little brain. It’s “not real,” but now Secretaries of State all around the country must prove a negative. And it’s not the first time Trump’s done this, either. Carey Wedler at theAntiMedia.org wrote about Trump’s Twitter fakery during the primary. It’s a fascinating read, all the more interesting because the person who figured it out is an anti-Trump conservative activist. As Wedler wrote then:

Compared to planting pundits and making threats, using fake Twitter followers may seem benign, but the intention remains the same as more extreme forms of media manipulation: to force narratives on the public in the hopes of amassing power and influence.

So, next time a meme picks up steam in the public discourse, it may help to play our little game of “real, or not real?” Where did it originate — before Jake Tapper and Chris Cilizza and Lou Dobbs started talking about it? Was it cooked up in a campaign kitchen and delivered to the public by a bunch of fake bots? If so then it’s not real, you guys.

Unreal.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump, media, Social Media

Dubious Achievements

Not sure what I did to earn this or, for that matter, when. But I consider it one of my crowning achievements:

Hannity

11 Comments

Filed under sean hannity, Social Media

There’s Facebook Newsfeed Bias?

Perpetually-aggrieved conservatives are claiming that Facebook has somehow tilted trending topics on your newsfeed to the left, according to a recent Gizmodo report. The fact that perpetually-aggrieved conservatives are always claiming the world is really unfair to them isn’t worth mentioning here, is it? Remember, the IRS totally did the same thing, you guys! (Pro-tip: they didn’t.)

Whatever, I really could give a shit about perpetually-aggrieved conservatives and their martyr complex. They will never be happy, they’re always convinced that the world is out to get them, and maybe it is. Maybe it should be. They’re always wrong about everything, they lost the culture war and have disintegrated into being the South’s bathroom monitor. I mean how pathetic is that? How fucking stupid is that?

So now it’s Facebook being mean to them. Is it? Are there some Ivy League-educated apparatchiks clogging your Facebook newsfeed with liberal propaganda? Hell if I know. But here’s my Facebook newsfeed today:

FacebookTrending

Forget the liberal or conservative bias part here. Does anyone see any actual news in this thing? Good lord, it’s like People magazine: celebrity news and human interest BS. It’s always been this way. Every time I bother to notice my newsfeed, which is rarely, it’s some Kardashian bullshit or something about a waterskiing squirrel. Not even joking here. It’s not news, people!

I just think it’s super precious that right-wingers are playing the “we’re so oppressed!” card over something as non-relevant as your Facebook newsfeed. Like it’s important, or something.

Nothing says your political movement is dead like trying to make an issue out of something like this.

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Filed under conservatives, media, Republican Party, Social Media

I’m Not Your Smile Monkey

We’ve all been there, amiright right ladies? You’re walking down the street, or in a grocery store, or at the post office, or any old place, really; you’re going about your day (and maybe it was a shitty day, maybe it wasn’t), and you’re thinking whatever you’re thinking, wrapped up in your own business, because the one thing you are not worried about in that moment is what some asshole loser guy thinks about you. And right then the asshole loser guy comes up to you and says, “Smile!”

How much do you want to pop that guy in the nose in that moment? And how much self-restraint does it take to not go full-shrill and tell him to mind his own fucking business and if he doesn’t like your sourpuss face, look at someone else?

This happened to me a lot when I was younger and hotter. Fellas, let me tell you now: if this is your pick-up line, you are Doing. It. Wrong.

“Smile!” is right up there with, “When’s the baby due?” when you’re not pregnant. If I want to smile I’ll fucking smile, okay? And if I don’t, I won’t, and it’s none of your goddamn business how, or why, or when. I’m not here to be your scenery.

I think I speak for all women when I say, Fuck you, asshole. I’m not your smile monkey. Go get some goddamn manners.

So yes, the backlash against Joe Scarborough for Tweeting at Hillary Clinton to “smile” last night is very richly deserved. He actually had the temerity to monitor her facial expressions? We weren’t put on earth to be your set decoration, guys. Ditto the other right-wing assholes who didn’t like the sound of Hillary’s voice. News flash: we don’t give a fuck what you think of our facial expressions, the volume of our voice, or any other aspect of our physical selves. Now go into the kitchen and make me a goddamn sandwich.

The #SmileForJoe hashtag on Twitter is just the kind of smackdown these pompous douche canoes deserve. There’s some brilliant stuff over there. Check it out.

5 Comments

Filed under 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Election, feminism, Hillary Clinton, media

This Campaign Has Already Gone On Too Long

I don’t know what’s worse: that this is an actual thing that a presidential candidate said, or that The Hill is covering it like he actually meant it:

DuckDynasty

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Filed under 2016 Election, media, Social Media

Here We Go Again

Another mass shooting, this time in San Bernardino. Everybody’s thoughts and prayers were so effective after the last mass shooting, that we decided to do it all again! /sarcasm

Meanwhile, on Twitter, we have this, just hours after news of the event started coming in:

 

STAGED

I’m just curious how that’s supposed to work? Obama and George Soros stage a mass shooting, come and take everyone’s guns away, and then what? What happens next? You’re sent to work in the salt mines? (We need more salt?) I mean, what’s the end game here?

Wouldn’t it just be easier for them to do whatever the fuck it is they want to do and then send one of those drones our Pentagon owns down to bomb the crap out of whomever objects? Wouldn’t that be easier than “staging” a mass shooting and then trying to collect hundreds of millions of guns from people in every nook and cranny of Murrica?

I mean, I’m just trying to apply some common sense here, people. I know, futile exercise …

9 Comments

Filed under Current Events, gun control, gun violence, Guns, Housekeeping, Social Media, twitter

A Cavalcade Of Rupert Murdoch Tweets

The “real black” thing pissed me off for some reason, maybe it’s the last straw. President Obama was certainly black enough when Fox News viewers were photoshopping photos of POTUS dressed like a pimp and thinking it was HIL-arious. I mean, c’mon.

A brief tour of Murdoch’s Twitter feed revealed an elderly Brahman clearly befuddled by the social change that surrounds him. In short, he’s your crazy uncle — but with a helluva lot more power and influence.

Two things that became apparent were that a) Murdoch despises Donald Trump, and b) he’s been hawking Ben Carson for months. I’d say Carson can expect a lot of love from Fox News in this campaign.

• Real Black vs Fake Black:

fakeBlack

• He knows Real White, too:

RealWhite

• Waxing Orwellian:

PeaceThruStrength
 
• In which Rupert discovers winter is still a thing:

GlobalWarming2

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Filed under FOX NEWS, media

What Is The Point Of Fake News?

Okay, internet: someone please explain to me the purpose/goals of these fake news sites which proliferate across the internet, peddling stories that are just … well, wrong. They’re not even satire, they’re just stupid. Why do they exist?

I’m talking about ones like this fake NBC site, with the enticing URL “nbc.com.co” that makes some bleary-eyed folks think it’s the real NBC.com. Recently this site stymied a lot of folks who should have known better by claiming the band “Survivor” was suing Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee over their song “Eye of the Tiger.” I see shit like this on peoples’ timelines and I just want to go nuts. These stories aren’t real! You look like an asshole for spreading them!

The fake news site National Report is another one. I’ve also seen fake New York Times urls.

These sites look real, and the misinformation goes viral as people who have been duped into thinking the news is real spread the false word via Facebook and Twitter. The stories have enticing headlines: “Christian Pastor In Vermont Sentenced To One Year In Prison After Refusing To Marry Gay Couple,” and “JetBlue To Begin Weighing Passengers” — stuff designed to gin up outrage and increase the viral hits. But they aren’t funny, they aren’t clever, they aren’t even satire. They’re just bullshit. And there are no ads on these sites, so what’s the fucking point?

Can anyone answer this question? Why? Just to fuck with people? To be mean? I don’t get it.

And why hasn’t the real NBC.com sued?

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Filed under internet, media, media manipulation

White Privilege, In One Tweet

[UPDATE]:

Add the Associated Press to the list of media outlets who just don’t get it:

APfail

Sweethearts. Who “pilfered checks.” Why don’t you just give them a reality TV show while you’re at it?

——————————————————————

From NBC News’ Twitter feed:

NBC News FAIL

Sweethearts? Let’s see:

An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they’re suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.

“It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous,” the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The sheriff’s office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne’s father reported missing on Jan. 3. They’re accused of stealing a neighbor’s red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.

They apparently ditched the truck Thursday in Henry County, Georgia, south of Atlanta, and are believed to have stolen a silver Toyota Tundra — which Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said had .45- and .38-caliber handguns in the back seat.

Chaffins said that both are suspects in at least the two auto thefts and that Hayes is also wanted on charges of custodial interference — that is, luring Cheyenne, a minor, away from her legal guardians.

So basically we have auto theft, kidnapping, possibly statutory rape, all wrapped up in a nice shiny “sweethearts/Bonnie & Clyde” package. How do you suppose this message would be packaged if the couple were black, not white?

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Filed under media, racism