Days of Palestine

Friday, March 31

Palestinian Activists Report Sudden Influx of Suspicious Followers on Twitter

M.Y | DOP -

Dozens of Palestinian activists on Twitter reported Friday a sudden influx of suspicious followers. The numbers of the followers crunched very anomalous and very weird.

Marc Owen Jones, an Asst Prof at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said about the incident that the Palestinian activist, Abier Khatib, has been followed by at least 438 accounts today.

He noted that all the new accounts were created today. You will see that the average number of accounts created per day among Abier’s followers is 28, he added.

He said that all these accounts have bizarre names. Some activists reported that the accounts have clearly related to the Israeli occupation.

“What is really amazing is the speed with which the accounts are created. The graph below shows how many accounts are created per hour. At their peak, there’s almost one hundred per hour. That’s well over one account created per minute #disinformation,” Jones added.

He noted that most of the fake accounts follow around 44 people (Currently), and most of those accounts seem to be active tweeting on Palestine – particularly pro-Palestinian and human rights advocacy groups/individuals.

“This tactic is not uncommon. It happened a while back to others tweeting on Yemen. Some suggest it’s a means to degrade the algorithmic quality of a Twitter account so that it possibly gets suspended,” he stressed.

Jones stated that when it’s unsolicited, as in these activist cases, I tend to think it’s more of a targeting operation.

If that fact is widely known it functions as a tool of surveillance and potentially intimidation (e.g. you are being watched). It also makes many people mute their accounts for a bit which has a censorship effect, he said.

Later today, Twitter suspended approximately 1,090 of the 1156 fake follower accounts.