It has been well documented that Trump’s Twitter account is rife with fake followers. But the reality of those fake followers and what they are doing can be elusive when talking about such large numbers (well over 30 million fakes). So, what do Trump’s Twitter Bots actually do besides swell his account?
Before I proceed, let me be clear. There are fake accounts on all sides and most high-level politicians are inundated with them. Trump is a special case because he is the President of the United States and he uses Twitter as a weapon.
First, let’s look at some of Trump’s most recent followers to date.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or overly experienced Twitter user) to see that many of these accounts are fake. There are even a couple of clear impostor accounts in the mix.
Scroll for an hour (yes, a full hour) down Trump’s followers and most of the accounts look like these examples. So, what is the point? Why are so many fake accounts following Trump? What’s their purpose? When we look at the fake accounts themselves, we get a good indication of their purpose.
Appearance of Popularity
A quick glance at Trump’s Twitter page is likely to give the appearance of popularity.
It’s not just the gross number of followers that imply Trump’s popularity, however. Account engagement is at least equally important. Imagine an account with 60+ million followers that never had a like, retweet, or reply. It would be an echo chamber unto itself. So, engagement is vital. And this is where the bots show their utility.
Trump’s Bot Engagement: Likes
This fake MAGA account (located in Ghana) has never tweeted, but it has liked a Trump Tweet.
And here is a sample of model bots that add to Trump’s Twitter engagement with likes.
Trump’s Bot Engagement: Retweets
Bot retweets falsely inflate Trump’s tweet engagement. How many of those retweets are real? How many of those retweets are courtesy of his 30+ million bot followers?
And the bots don’t mess around when it comes to retweeting Trump. Some bots’ timelines are only (or mostly) Trump retweets.
While other bots retweet Trump and MAGA-related accounts. Including Trump’s family.
Trump’s Bot Engagement: Replies
Yes, “bots” reply. What most people refer to as bots are more often fake, agenda-driven accounts that are sometimes partially human-run (cyborg) and sometimes fully human-run (trolls). And when the pro-Trump fakes are cyborgs or trolls, they falsely inflate Trump’s reply numbers, sometimes tilting the replies in his favor.
Trump bots reply to other pro-Trump accounts as well.
Trump’s Bot Engagement: Trains and Tweets
Trump bots also participate in the Right’s version of a follow-back party called Trump Trains. This enables the fake accounts to spread into real accounts’ followers.
Some of the more sophisticated pro-Trump fakes even create original Tweets in Trump’s favor (note: some of the tweets are plagiarized).
Trump’s Bot Engagement: Profile Descriptions
Many of Trump’s Twitter bots also have pro-Trump messaging in their profile descriptions.
The Collective Power of Fake Accounts
Profile descriptions, tweets, replies, retweets, and likes give the seemingly limitless fake accounts (over 30 million in Trump’s account alone) the collective power of appearance. The appearance of engagement. The appearance of popularity.
Why so much trouble to create a massive machine of fake accounts for false popularity? Because, humans tend to be attracted to popularity. Thus, the purpose of the fake accounts is to dupe people. Attract new supporters by duping them into believing Trump is more popular than he is. Dupe journalists, academics, and statisticians into crediting Trump’s popularity based on the false number of interactions.
And people fall for it. Every day. Across every social media platform. Globally. And it will continue until the platforms get rid of the fake accounts.
Written by Unhackthevote
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