If you’ve spent any time on social media, particularly in the politicalsphere, chances are you’ve encountered an internet troll or two. This election cycle has been er, um… interesting. I never thought I’d long for the days the so-called Paulbots would troll my feeds lecturing me about liberty and the Constitution and Dr. Paul. At least most of those accounts were real. Alas…
Not so in 2016.
The Trumpbots, or accounts that seem to exist solely to attack those with unfavorable views of The Donald, are a special breed of vicious. I’ve learned it’s best to ignore, block, and move on. Why waste time on people, or bots rather, not interested in positive engagement, I say.
I’ve also suspected there was a concerted effort to derail conversation on social media and to attempt to fluster influencers. It all reeked of some kind of psychological web warfare. Turns out, I might have been right.
Sure, Trump pulls in around a third of the Republican primary vote now, but it’s curious that he had an overwhelming appearance of support right out of the gate. The reader may remember Trump’s campaign was busted paying individuals to attend his early rallies.
These Trumpbots are behave especially hostile towards Ted Cruz. Professor Jacobson has encountered what was likely the working of the Trump botnet on more than one occasion, “It seems that every time our Twitter account gets involuntarily looped into some endless stream of vicious anti-Cruz tweeting, typically because we’ve retweeted something pro-Cruz by a well-known person, the relentless pro-Trump protagonist is someone with very few followers, but thousands of tweets,” he said.
Yesterday, Digital Analyst, Patrick Ruffini began digging into a score of Twitter accounts that seem to explain this bizarre Trump/social media phenomena. It might also explain the consistent skew in online polling (read: Drudge Poll).
Earlier this week, Jason Taylor, blogging at Medium, explained how it’s possible to procure around 500,000 ‘aged’ Twitter accounts to create a botnet:
From my years on Twitter I’ve ran many campaigns against in what I believed to be wrong, and unjust. I have years of knowledge on how to run multiple Twitter accounts, and how to go about getting those. It’s not as simple as going out, creating an email account and then starting a Twitter account, not if you’re talking about five hundred thousand accounts. And, brand spanking new Twitter accounts won’t cut it, they get suspended to easy. You need “aged” accounts, accounts that have been steeping for at least five years.
There are many places to go on the dark web to buy Twitter accounts that also come with email addresses, that’s where Team Trump went.
These “aged” accounts are not cheap, to amass half a million of those you’re looking at some real cash, not that Trump doesn’t have it, but you need planning and someone well versed in social media to put this plan into action. I’m sure that the Trump Team new the power of Twitter long before he ever jumped in the race for President.
With these Twitter accounts, Facebook, and an email account to go along with each one; it’s no surprise he (Trump) wins every online poll. Trump has tried to control the narrative from the start, and he’s done a pretty good job of it, up until now. This was well thought out, and executed the way a general might map out a war.
These Twitter accounts are easy to spot, accounts that are dated 2009 to 2012, with few followers and a solid line of Donald Trump propaganda. There are real people running these Twitter accounts, mostly from the middle east, using VPN’s and Proxy’s to hide from United States Twitter.
Erick Erickson too explored Trump’s manufactured support and the troll accounts that harass him via email or call into his radio show insisting he said something anti-Trump when Erickson wasn’t even on the air — he was on holiday.
Last Tuesday night, my radio show saw a wave of callers calling in to complain about what I was saying that very night on radio. The callers assured my call screener they were listening. The calls were coming from area codes all over the nation and they were very angry about what I had just said on the radio that very night about Trump.
I was on vacation. The guest host had been talking about local matters and had not even mentioned Trump. Hello, seminar callers. Likewise, many of the calls to my radio station demanding I be fired or disciplined for insulting Trump have come from people making statements about my radio show that clearly indicate they have not listened to the show or the station.
Similarly, whenever I get a wave of emails attacking me for things about Trump, frequently the same IP address pops up. On Twitter, the waves come from people with rarely used or new Twitter accounts that are suddenly all in for Trump — every tweet an attack against someone or Trump propaganda. More often than not, the accounts have pictures of someone other than the the person tweeting and most do not use real names.
Certainly it could be people with low social connectedness, as Michael Barone has noted, but it sure seems odd to suddenly get a a wave of #whitegenocide tweets from accounts that are just suddenly active and all in to attack people who oppose Trump.
And then there’s the ‘news’ site, pushing nothing but pro-Trump propaganda that originated from… Macedonia?
In the wake of the Wisconsin primary, for example, supporters of Donald Trump took to social media posting what appeared to be valid news reports making fraudulent claims that electronic voting machines in Wisconsin were switching from Donald Trump to Ted Cruz.
This particular fake story appears to have originated at UnitedMediaPublishing.com, and was distributed ad nauseum all over social media. But the bogus story or a variation of it was additionally cited at many other pro-Trump propaganda websites, which were also shared repeatedly on social media.
An analysis prepared by John Daniels, editor-in-chief of Tavernkeepers.com and exclusively relayed to the Examiner examined numerous “news” sites. Daniels determined that the following pro-Trump propaganda sites sprung up in only the past several months from Macedonia, a nation bordering Greece. Using the website ICANN WHOIS, Daniels was able to determine the registrar, origination date and location of these websites:
The curious fact that pro-Trump websites are originating from a Russian-leaning Slavic outpost in southeastern Europe raises questions, particularly considering the strange alliance between Donald Trump and pro-Russia conservative outlets such as InfoWars and Michael Savage.
Articles about fake voter fraud in Wisconsin and claims that Ted Cruz will be dropping out of the presidential race (he is not) were posted at all of the above sites. They linked back to other pro-Trump sites such as thepoliticalinsider.com, thegatewaypundit.com and endingthefed.com.
Included in the slideshow above is this excerpt from Trump’s The Art of the Deal where he discusses creating a perception to close a deal:
— Proud Texan (@BecomeATexan) April 8, 2016
“My leverage came from confirming an impression they were already predisposed to believe,” wrote Trump.
Smart politics or gutter-dwelling tactics? Doesn’t really matter at this point because it worked.
[Featured Image: Cave Troll, Photo by Kevin Dooley]
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