One way to avoid having your repetitive pro-Trump posts flagged as belonging to a bot is to hire teenagers in Arizona to act like bots – and that’s exactly it The Washington Post reported conservative group Turning Point Action did.
These children have messages like “Trust Dr. Fauci not ”posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram post Office reported. They reiterated President Donald Trump’s disdain for postal ballot papers and made false claims of election fraud using the repetitive posting behavior most common among bots or trolls.
The campaign took place over the months, and the post Office identified at least 4,500 tweets resulting from the Turning Point action. “In 2016, Macedonian teenagers got involved in the election by running a troll farm and writing great articles for money,” said Graham Brookie, an expert in digital forensic research The post. “In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix.”
Turning Point Action, led by Charlie Kirk, is affiliated with Turning Point USA, a Phoenix-based conservative youth group. This group told The post in a statement that the comparison of their business with a troll farm was a “gross misrepresentation”. Instead, the effort has been described as “genuine political activism carried out by real people who are passionate about the beliefs they describe online, rather than an anonymous troll farm in Russia.”
By using their own accounts, attendees were able to bypass some of the protections these tech companies put in place after 2016. Participants shared a document with each other to coordinate the phrases they used to post on social media and were instructed to edit the phrases that would make the posts appear more real.
This isn’t Turning Point’s first brush with coordinated spurious behavior. In the last election cycle, spurious right-wing behavior came from the Russian Internet Research Agency. As part of that effort, the IRA has improved the content of Turning Point to help Trump, experts told the Senate Intelligence Committee. This time, “it sounds like the Russians, but it comes from the Americans instead,” said Jacob Ratkiewicz, software engineer at Google The post. His doctoral thesis dealt with astroturfing in political campaigns.