Why is Twitter allowing fake government Twitter accounts to spread alt-right disinformation? The accounts are pretending to be North Carolina county and state.
These accounts tweet decidedly right-wing content. For those that are unaware, this could create the illusion that North Carolina is far more right-leaning than it actually is.
Here is a tweet that shows the account @_North_Carolina both impersonating the state of North Carolina and tweeting right-wing content.
Our collaborator @geoffgolberg had this very interesting exchange with the human behind these accounts, here.
The official Greensboro account isn’t verified, so it is difficult for the casual observer to know which account is real. The official account has requested that Twitter remove the impostor account, to no avail.
The fake account shows up higher in the search results for “Greensboro” on Twitter. Also note, that the account’s description is cut off in these results, so the “Not the Government” disclaimer is not visible, but the link to the fake North Carolina account is.
Is this why the fake Greensboro account has more than five times the number of followers as the real account?
These followers include some very interesting official accounts, including @WarriorCare (official DoD account), @Interior (official Dept. of Interior account), and @LBJLibrary. Do they know they are following a right-wing imposter site?
Even more interesting is Republican Senator Thom Tillis – @SenThomTillis. He also follows both of these accounts, and in fact began following them very early on. Well before he began following the official accounts. Mistake?
Additionally, Senator Richard Burr follows these accounts. Does he know they are fake?
To further complicate social media messaging for North Carolina, the outgoing GOP governor Pat McCrory refused to hand over the official state social media accounts to the current Democratic governor Roy Cooper.
Fake Government Accounts, Real Impact
This sort of impersonation could have very real political impact. Consider what if:
> an official-looking account such as this one chose to endorse a political candidate?
> they published a false or damaging story about a Democratic candidate close to the midterms?
> the fake accounts put up a fake announcement that county polling places are closing early? Or Democratic Polling stations were closed?
> they said the Mail in Ballots were not correct and new ones would be mailed out knowing that this would not happen?
We always believe that when such time, effort and money is put into a project like this that there is an endgame, a reason. In this case we can’t afford to find out what it is. It isn’t a good one.
Twitter has been negligent at the expense of honest discourse and our democratic process, in not suspending these accounts. Despite repeated complaints.
That’s where all of us come in. We did it with Reffy Botnet and we need to do it now. Please take the time and help clean this platform from this type of dangerous content.
What to do? REPORT AND BLOCK.
It’s easy – go to the accounts listed and click on the “Report” link under the “More user actions” menu. That’s hidden behind the three dots at the upper right of the page. Choose “this account is pretending to be someone else.” Then block.
We are putting a lot of resources behind trying to keep our Social Media platforms clean. We have a lot of findings that we will be posting. Just as all of you helped us get Reffy Bot removed we ask for your help again. We can’t afford these sites to be live through the midterms.
We have a lot of work to do and we need your help.
For information on how to spot a bot, see our Bot Tutorial.
Written by Unhackthevote