February 26, 2013

Astro-Tweets: Many Obama-Encouraged Gun Control Messages to Congressmen Sent From Fake Twitter Accounts

OFAastrotweetWideAt the Hill on Monday, Pete Kasperowicz, employing the establishment press’s usual “mean Republicans attack” spin, is packaging something first aggregated on Friday at Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy.com exclusively as an accusation coming from GOP Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas.

Malkin’s credit-denied crew, with the help of citizen activists who did much of the dirty work, detected what I will call “Astro-Tweets,” a Twitter-driven variant of the campaign tactic known as “astroturfing,” which aims, using a variety of means, to create the illusion of public support for a cause where little or none exists (bolds are mine throughout this post):

“Kathleen H. Dittus” wasn’t born yesterday, you know. She — or her Twitter account, at least — was born today. No, she hasn’t even been born yet; she’s still inside that “egg” avatar, but she can’t wait to break out and lend the president a hand with his gun control effort.

The @BarackObama account, fresh off of exploiting Gabby Giffords to push its demand that Congress vote on an assault weapons ban, is doing its best to get #WeDemandAVote trending, but some conservatives are noticing that a lot of the supporters are a little, um, young. They have zero (Twitter) followers, follow no one, and have tweeted just once.

One watcher noted that “Almost all of the accounts in #WeDemandAVote are created in the last 72 hours.”

Well, maybe the gun control cause is soooooo important that people are coming out of the woodwork and joining the Twitterverse to make their feelings known. Uh, no. Enter Stockman:

Stockman said that in response to Obama’s call for people to tweet their congressman in support of gun control legislation, he received just 16 tweets. But he said all of these messages were identical, and that a closer look at them revealed that only six were from real people.

“The other 10 are fake, computer-generated spambots,” his office said in a press release. As evidence, he said these 10 tweets use default graphics and names, and have not engaged in any interaction with other people. Two of the tweets were sent at nearly the same time, and both follow just one person: Brad Schenck, Obama’s former digital strategist.

That’s not exactly a compelling groundswell.

A search at the Associated Press’s national site on Stockman’s last name comes up empty. Searches at the Politico on its “gun control” tag and on Stockman’s last name also return nothing relevant to Obamabots’ astro-tweeting. There’s not a chance that a similar fakery-driven effort by a conservative or Republican group would be so studiously ignored.

The Politico does have a previous indicator of Stockman’s style. A brief item on Thursday tells readers that the Texas represenative invited staffers to attend a gun rights talk with these words: “Grab free donuts and coffee before Obama grabs your gun!”

The Politico’s Jake Sherman whined that “Obama’s proposal to overhaul gun laws does not include a mass roundup of guns.” Okay, but he forgot to note a Justice Department memo which became public over a week earlier told higher-ups that the only way to get “assault weapons” off the streets was to do just that.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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