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Australian Politics

Liberal Senator Says Auspol Twitter Users Collude to Manipulate The Election

twitter bots

Senator Fierravanti-Wells likens regular everyday #Auspol users to Russian Bots colluding to manipulate the election on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. The Senator calls for accounts to be investigated. Named accounts in the Senate were: @virgotweet @Talaolp @Nobby15 @banas51 @randlight @MSMWatchdog2013 @pedwards2014 @GoldCoastNurse @MinhKular 

It is deeply concerning, that an Australian Senator is trying to suppress political opinion of the general public, by accusing these people of being fake accounts, or working on behalf of a political party, without any evidence whatsoever.

The Liberal Party may very well offer directives to members of the Liberal Party to post certain opinions, but as a member of the Labor Party, I have never received such an instruction. All thoughts are my own. Where is the Senator’s evidence that these named accounts are members of the Australian Labor Party if she does not even know their names? 

There are a myriad of Auspol Twitter Users with the same type of anti-Government messaging who use their own names.  Guess what? It’s because we are anti-Government because the Government hates the worker, hates the poor and are destroying lives and destroying the country! It is that simple. 

All of these accounts are well established, long standing Twitter accounts.  Like me and like you, all of these users are everyday citizens, who simply enjoy the Twitter medium to express their opinion.

It is deeply, deeply concerning, that Senator Fierravanti-Wells has suggested investigation of these accounts for ‘Anti-Government messaging’ by submitting her speech to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

We have the freedom to be anti-Government in Australia.  We have the freedom to express our political opinions in Australia.

I find it absolutely galling that this Senator has attacked every day citizens in this way, accusing them of sinister motivations and collusion to attack a Government in the same manner as a Russian Bot; when the Liberal Party has the Murdoch Press and various very prominent talk back hosts spreading their anti-Labor, anti-Union messages on behalf of the Liberals Party on a daily basis.

The Prime Minister must condemn Senator Fierravanti-Wells

The Prime Minister must absolutely condemn Senator Fierravanti-Wells for using the highest chamber to attack and accuse Australian Citizens of wrong doing; but also for using her platform as a representative of the Government in an attempt to destroy our freedom of political thought and expression.

The Prime Minister must also absolutely condemn Senator Fierravanti-Wells for any stress and upset she may have caused everyday citizen users by submitting the names of these accounts to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, as ‘Qualitative material’ and warns we must be ‘on guard.’

What country am I living in???

By the way Senator, I have 581.3K impressions in the last month. I am proudly a member of a Union, I am proudly a member of the Labor Party and I will proudly Tweet my anti-Government opinion 100 times a day if I wish. But the Labor Party sure as hell does not tell me what to say!  I am also a real person. How dare you accuse, defame and degrade members of the Australian public in this way, because you do not like their opinion.

Such an abuse of power!

Hansard Excerpt 

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (19:14): Tonight I again wish to examine how political influence campaigns are being run using multiple Twitter accounts. I recently informed the Senate about the activities of Sleeping Giants Oz, an anonymous, politically motivated Twitter campaign, imported from the US, whose heavy reliance on unverifiable Twitter accounts makes its actual size deceptive. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently looking at cybermanipulation of elections, including considering the extent to which social media bots may have targeted Australian voters and political discourse in the past; the likely sources of social media manipulation within Australia and internationally; and ways to address the spread of deliberately false news online during elections.

A submission to JSCEM from Digital Industry Group Inc, which includes representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google, concludes:

Fortunately, the experience of DIGI members and the use of their platforms in Australia, to date there is no evidence to suggest that election manipulation has been a widespread problem in Australia as it has been in the U.S.

Similarly a submission from Twitter says:

During the 2016 election, we were not made aware of any activity related to the suppression or interference with the exercise of voting rights in Australia.

These reassurances seem at odds with a recent report in The Australian that Twitter accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the infamous Russian troll factory, have spread politically charged posts about Australian politics, including the 2016 federal election and last year’s same-sex marriage survey.

However, tonight I wish to outline to the Senate how the Australian Labor Party is benefiting from another influence campaign also being conducted via the Twitter sphere. This campaign employs a calculated and malicious strategy of spreading misinformation and political spam via a large web of mainly anonymous but also automated Twitter accounts. These accounts post similar-to-identical pro-Labor, pro-union, anti-coalition content. They primarily engage by retweeting posts from like-minded accounts, creating an echo chamber of reinforcing noise. Twitter is full of anonymous accounts that often exist only to push partisan and frequently toxic debate by interests groups, including fake news. Twitter permits automated retweets and it is easy to make a Twitter bot that will automatically ‘favourite’ and/or retweet tweets that contain particular words or hashtags.

Many of the accounts to which I refer have tweeted or retweeted hundreds of thousands of times and continue to do so hundreds of times a day, cranking out pro-Labor, anti-coalition messaging on an industrial scale. Often they admit a union connection or Labor viewpoint, together with an eclectic mix of other interests which collectively cover the entire gamut of left-wing concerns. Some accounts run lies and smears against the coalition or needle coalition candidates and parliamentarians while promoting Labor initiatives or running interference for Labor. They are frequently a vehicle for unfounded and defamatory allegations, low-grade research or catalogues of alleged coalition misdeeds which wouldn’t be publishable by or rate any interest from the mainstream media. Some recycle media stories which boost Labor or are unflattering to the coalition. For example, @virgotweet, which mainly retweets 80 times a day, recycles old news about alleged coalition scandals and presents it as if new. They typically follow or are followed by a mix of Labor figures and also engage with Twitter feeds of other left-wing organisations. The aim is to discredit the coalition, to promote allies and to distort public opinion by massively amplifying messages which feed into like-minded networks and engage both anonymous and real Twitter users.

These accounts often show signs of direct user engagement via unique tweets and topical comments, which is indicative of their close maintenance and operation. A key account called @Talaolp tweets rather than retweets an unremitting torrent of Labor propaganda. It claims it is:

… sharing information about the Liberal Governments, State and Federal, their deception, lies and misinformation to the Australian Public.

Based in Western Australia, @Talaolp has tweeted 230,000 times in the last five years. That’s about 125 times a day. Some of its anti-coalition material is scurrilous and intended simply to smear. It typically posts to three other accounts: ‘Sir Clyde of Nob’ @Nobby15, ‘Big Al’ @banas51 and ‘Mari R’ @randlight.

Sir Clyde of Nob, supposedly a retired IT specialist also based in Western Australia, has tweeted 790,000 times over the last nine years, an average of 240 times a day. It mostly retweets, but every seventh to eighth engagement, on average, is a personal tweet or comment on a post, showing frequent personal intervention. It retweets TALAOLP extensively and boasts about its Twitter reach, in a recent week receiving over 1,600 mentions, 1,500 likes, almost 400 retweets and 230 replies. Big Al, who describes himself as a ‘lefty’ and a ‘hard worker’, has retweeted over 200,000 times in the last four years, an average of 135 a day, namely retweeting a broad fare of left-wing commentary. Mari R, who says she wants Bill for PM, has retweeted almost 450,000 times over the last seven years, an average of 175 times a day.

Another such account is MSM Watchdog, supposedly dedicated to ‘Exposing unconscionable attacks on the poor’. This account has tweeted 447,000 times over the last five years, an average of 240 a day, predominantly retweets of predictable anti-coalition and pro-Labor material. But MSM Watchdog was stung into life by my recent speech on Sleeping Giants Oz, claiming that the Liberal Party hates social media because ‘they are hopeless at it.’ If being good at it means flooding the twittersphere with propaganda up to 100,000 times a year, I’ll take that as a compliment. MSM Watchdog retweets far more frequently than Sir Clyde of Nob. Some days it only retweets hundreds of times; other days there are also some personal tweets and comments. Both accounts appear to be operated closely by individual users but are almost totally reliant on retweets as a method of amplification. Who has either the inclination or the resources to, in the main, retweet 240 times a day, year upon year? I suggest that the description of many accounts as being operated by unionists offers a clue.

Another account, ‘Old and Cranky’, which describes its owner as a ‘true believer still looking for the light on the hill’—good luck!—has tweeted 329,000 times in the last four years, an average of 225 a day, of antigovernment messaging. Its last 3,200 engagements are all retweets. Similarly, ‘Gold Coast Nurse’, which describes its owner as a proud union delegate and member, tweeted 88 times a day in the last five years and has also not tweeted an original thought in its last 3,200 tweets.

What I have described tonight is the Twitter equivalent of a Labor union telephone tree, a Twitter tree, though perhaps a better analogy would be a jungle, and the law of the jungle applies when it comes to its content. An organised union operation backed by Labor volunteers is the most likely source of this influence campaign, but the anonymity of accounts means we can’t be sure exactly who they are. These accounts were active during the 2016 election. They’re in full swing and, unless checked, will be active during the next election. Twitter’s submission to JSCEM claims:

We focus on developing machine learning tools that identify and act on networks of spammy or automated accounts automatically by tracking account behaviour. This lets us tackle attempts to manipulate conversations on Twitter at scale, across languages, and different time zones.

I submit that Twitter is on a steep learning curve and still has a long way to go, and I would suggest it review the activities of the accounts to which I have referred as well as many other high-volume accounts like ‘Wowbagger’ and ‘Fair Dinkum Troublemaker’.

As we approach the next election, we need to be aware that political interest groups as well as potential state actors are trying to amplify their messaging and distort debate, including by disseminating fake news using social media platforms. In relation to state actors, I again note that a US intelligence report assessed that:

Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

Clearly, there is much to be on guard about as we approach the next election. I will be forwarding this speech to JSCEM as I believe it adds qualitative material.

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About trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. You will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

Discussion

13 thoughts on “Liberal Senator Says Auspol Twitter Users Collude to Manipulate The Election

  1. Onya Trish,speaking truth to the powerful always annoys them & I`m proud to say I`m friends with all the Tweeters the Senator mentioned

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Bighead1883 | November 16, 2018, 8:40 am
    • An absolute disgrace Biggy. No different that that No Fibs Blog attacking citizen users or the Australian attacking and lying about Denise Shrivel. The Prime Minister must condemn her.

      Like

      Posted by trishcorry | November 16, 2018, 8:42 am
      • It won`t happen because she`s said it under parliamentary privilege
        I believe it should be ramped up on social media because it shows the desperation the LNP have about being outed Trish.
        They cannot handle Labor & union supporters having their say,it`s all about controlling the narrative with Tories & neo-cons

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by Bighead1883 | November 16, 2018, 9:01 am
  2. And not a mention of yours truly!!??….that miserable bastard!!….(not me..HER!)..

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by freefall852 | November 16, 2018, 11:55 am
    • The arrogance of these wealthy people is breathtaking they are so far up themselves that they truly believe that their’s is the only opinion, and if anyone has the temerity to hold a different opinion, they must be a Russian syp intent on bringing the government down. Well, I am a real person, my name is Shaun Newman and I write letters to the Editors of all major Australian newspapers with opinions against this evil, cruel and nasty federal L’NP government and I don’t care whether a Senator or anyone else likes or dislikes my letters they will continue.

      If the government was doing the right thing by the people of Australia, there would be no complaint. As Trish says these tory politicians hat we working class people with a passion because most of them were born into wealth and have not had to struggle as we have. I won’t be happy until next May we elect a Shorten Labor government. My letters will continue if they do not measure up, you have my word on that.

      Liked by 2 people

      Posted by townsvilleblog | November 17, 2018, 8:01 am
  3. Those that try to regulate the internet do not understand it. I don’t worry too much about them anymore. All laws and regulations imposed so far are useless and ineffective. Those that really control the internet and by that I mean the control of information and political and social influence, Google, Facebook, twitter etcetera do understand it and are abusing it.

    I expect the proposed mandated backdoors will prove impossible to implement and ineffective also.

    My opinion is that is foolish use Facebook and twitter. No offense meant to the author nor other readers. It is just my ‘informed’ opinion,

    Year 1 and lesson 1 at computer science school: Never use your real name and never use a credit card on the internet.
    How many Labor Party or any party politicians have you heard give that advice. Why is that Trish?

    Something else; “Cutting carbon [pollution] means cutting jobs.” — Chris Martenson
    No politician nor CEO nor union leader and nor will Trish, ever say this.

    This means that, everything that humanity has achieved up to this date will have been for nothing. We are on our way to extinction and this twitter thing that Trish is so upset about is so inconsequential in comparison, it amounts to nothing.

    Just my opinion.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/extinction-rebellion-protest-civil-action-london-climate-change-a8638536.html

    Extinction Rebellion.
    “We Declare:
    International Non-Violent Rebellion Against the World’s Governments for Criminal Inaction on the Ecological Crisis”
    https://xrebellion.org/

    Cheers.

    Like

    Posted by Harquebus | November 18, 2018, 8:04 am
    • Hey you piece of dog`s excrement,it wasn`t enough that you continually abused Trish on AIMN,you come to her blog to continue it,
      Rabid fukwit you are

      Like

      Posted by Bighead1883 | November 18, 2018, 8:40 am
      • Bighead
        My satisfaction will be knowing that yours, just like everyone elses, is going to get what’s coming.

        I disagree with Trish and a lot of others on a lot of things and have done for a long time but, I don’t recall ever calling her names like those that you have always hurled at me. It only makes you look bad by the way.

        https://eand.co/how-capitalism-torched-the-planet-and-left-it-a-smoking-fascist-greenhouse-fe687e99f070?fbclid=IwAR0GkkK17yYRUVInY7UNDn_9tpsjbQhvLFWCPOUt-2W48-f8NB31fjDEGCM&gi=6011a6f3ee46

        Have a browse through this. I dare you. It is where I got the above link.
        https://old.reddit.com/r/collapse/

        Many in the scientific community, those that can do the math, myself included, have given up. Thanks to the likes of you, it’s now too late. Population control, economic contraction, lower standards of living, high unemployement or a very short working week should have been implemented last century. Very few and again, I am one, advocated these things and have always met resistance from the likes of Trish and abuse from the likes of you.

        Now there is nothing more that can be done except to say, “I told you so.”

        Avagoodwun.

        Cheers.

        H.

        Like

        Posted by Harquebus | November 20, 2018, 8:00 am
        • Well you`re banned everywhere so here will probably be next you idiot

          Like

          Posted by Bighead1883 | November 21, 2018, 9:01 am
          • Yep. I have been banned from many sites not because of abuse or name calling as you do but, because I express an unpallatable realistic point of view. This is part of the reason that we are where we are and I am not the only one who has been excluded. Silencing alternate views is standard practice amongst the left and those with the most to lose. No one wants to hear that their grandkids are going to perish in a desolate resource ravished world but, that is exactly what is going to happen because of it and it’s not my fault. I tried to warn you all and now, it’s too late and you call me an idiot when it is you that is an entrenched member of the suicidal world destroying crazies.

            Soon, you will remember me as someone who you should have listened to whereas, I will have forgotten all about you as just another of the very many who couldn’t or wouldn’t do simple arithmetic.

            I was banned from theAIMN for stating that, those who advocate the status quo, that is resource consumption and consumerism (jobs and growth) with the delusions of renewable energy makes them in effect, suicidal mass murderers. The responses from the likes of you that I have always had to battle reinforces my opinion.

            There is no need to provide for future generations. Thanks to the likes of you, there won’t be any.

            Wanna try calling this guy an idiot? He is deceased so, he won’t mind.
            Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

            Extended version:

            Cheers.

            H.

            Like

            Posted by Harquebus | November 23, 2018, 11:42 am

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Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. You will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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