Saturday, February 11, 2017

Who is behind right wing bots?

A friend created a fake Facebook account around lunch time on Friday - yesterday:
  • He used a right wing meme as a profile photo, and had a big USA nationalist cover photo (flag, etc.). 
  • He marked his religion on this fake profile as “Jesus Christ.” 
  • In his profile, he said he is divorced.
  • In his profile, his high school is fake - it's somewhere in Kentucky, and has the name "Christian" in the title
  • He “liked” Fox News, Breitbart, and some “we love Trump” account. 
  • He put up a few status updates, all political in nature.
  • Then he sent friend requests to 5 - 10 people who were posting right wing crap on those pages.
  • He did NOT comment on any pages at all.
24 hours later - around noon time on Saturday:
  • he sent out another 5 -10 friend requests, choosing people out of the comments section of the aforementioned pages, and had about 7 Facebook friends. 
  • he added an implication on his profile that he’s an Army veteran and as having graduated from a fake Christian high school in Kentucky.
By 6 p.m. that evening, he has MORE THAN 100 FRIEND REQUESTS.

I want to note, that as of 6 p.m. Saturday evening:
  • He hasn’t posted on any page other than his own. 
  • He hasn’t engaged with anyone at all except to send about 20 friend requests. 
  • And in the time it took me to type everything you have read up to this point, I have been informed that he had about 10 more friend requests.
Later that same evening: he went through 100 of his friend requests. He said that:
  • Some say they are women, and have flowers and inspirational quotes in their profile. They also each have hundreds, even thousands, of friends. 
  • Some are people that, in their status update, have only posts selling something: knives, ammunition, survival items, etc. 
Some things to consider:
  • On his real profile, the one that uses his real name, location, job, etc., he does comment on public organization's status updates - for instance, on a news organization's facebook page status update.  
  • On his real profile, he rarely gets friend requests - and when he does, they are usually from people he knows. 
So, my conclusion: There are bots - software programs - that do nothing but seeking out right wing people on Facebook. Some of the friend requests are from real people, some are from fake profiles, but most, and maybe all, are a result of bots that has been programmed specifically to find people that lean far right.

But WHO has created these bots?

FYI, this experiment by my friend was inspired by What goes on in a far-right Facebook filter bubble?, an article in Deutsche Welle about two TV reporters for Germany's ZDF broadcaster that created a fake account for an imaginary, and extreme, right wing German, and what happened regarding who reached out to that fake profile on Facebook.

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