As mentioned in my earlier New Media and Democracy posts, the conservative coalition have had no qualms about enlisting the help from their young supporters to muddy the waters of political discourse, well it seems they have stepped up their game and hired a coder to automate their trolling with the use of bots.
Tiphereth Gloria, social media expert with VML Australia, said the bot evidence presented in the Storify post appeared to be accurate and she believes it pointed to a Liberal Party campaign. The fake accounts appeared to be part of a “propaganda war” effort to “increase share of voice of anti-Labor sentiment”.
Separately, other spam bot accounts are more blatant. One suspected anti-Labor bot Twitter profile with over 88,000 tweets is @LaborDirt, which pumps out a constant stream of anti-Labor content. Anti-Gillard account @GI-Gillard has reportedly been retweeted by the same bots that retweeted Mr Hunt’s tweet.
A Storify user calling themself The Geek has followed this a little closer than I have:
Update 1: Since publishing this story earlier, I have put together a growing list of LNP Bots here:
Also at last count 19 January 2013, there were about 40 genuine retweets out of 175 in total for this tweet. The Bots are tweeting via an app or platform called “The People’s Voice”. Has anyone heard of this? Contact me @geeksrulz on Twitter.
Update 2: I tweeted a link last night to my storify feature is.gd/3r9Xj1 to @GregHuntMP for comment. No response so far.
Update 3: Since shining a light on this single tweet by Greg Hunt, the retweets have jumped to 192. They are by real LNP supporters who are possibly coming to Greg Hunt’s rescue to even up the ratio between spambots and real people.
Update 4: It appears that Twitter has finally acted and they have suspended the spambots that were identified. With friends like these, who needs enemies.
Update 5: Henk Luf is threatening to sue me for using his name in this feature. (Oops just did it again.) I have threatened to sue him back if he keeps using my name in his political tweets. Please go to the special Henk Luf section below if you can be bothered. See, spambots are missing out on all the fun that real people have 🙂
Update 6: Finally a response from Greg Hunt via @bennpackham. Greg Hunt says he hasn’t got the technical skills to pull off such a ruse. Fair point. I wonder how he managed to get his website up and running.
He goes on to point out further details of this troll, and even gives an example of another Conservative MP doing the same…
Can we make legaslative provisions to prevent this type of trolling? or will we just be making an over-regulated online media? I dont have a solution to this other that teach ethics in Computer Science 101.