As we move ever further into the digital age of the 21st century, the internet is becoming a sort of parallel universe to our own, where everything we see in real life is reflected back to us from computer screens after passing through the filter of cynicism.
We are more ourselves online. It’s as though we are using the pseudo-anonymity of the world wide web to be more honest at times. What shouts back at us from the deeper, darker corners of the internet is who we really are…at least, for the most part.
With this anonymity comes the potential for abuse as well. There are plenty of non-existent people who exist online, and often with a nefarious purpose in mind. Such is apparently the case with a number of Michael Bloomberg’s supporters.
Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been experimenting with novel tactics to cultivate an online following, or at least the appearance of one.
But one of the strategies — deploying a large number of Twitter accounts to push out identical messages — has backfired. On Friday, Twitter began suspending 70 accounts posting pro-Bloomberg content in a pattern that violates company rules.
“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman said. Some of the suspensions will be permanent, while in other cases account owners will have to verify they have control of their accounts.
Here’s where things went awry:
By sponsoring hundreds of new accounts that post copy-pasted content, Twitter said the campaign violated its rules against “creating multiple accounts to post duplicative content,” “posting identical or substantially similar Tweets or hashtags from multiple accounts you operate” and “coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.”
The suspensions may sweep up accounts belonging to unpaid Bloomberg supporters or campaign volunteers. While the Bloomberg’s campaign’s practice of paying Twitter users was a factor in the suspensions, a company spokesman said accounts behaving in substantially the same manner will receive the same treatment, regardless of who controls them.
The 2016 election was rife with warnings about Russia troll farms, churning out pro-Trump messages by the thousands.
In 2020, those threats will be coming from Manhattan instead of Moscow.
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