, 12 tweets, 15 min read Read on Twitter
We started looking at automated activity (and potentially other aspects of) tweets containing various #<candidate first or last name>2020 hashtags (e.g., #Warren2020, #Kamala2020, #Bernie2020, etc.) We examined tweets from Jan 1st - July 3rd, 2019.

cc: @ZellaQuixote
Looking more closely at the 2020 hashtags that have both a significant percentage (we used 10% as a cutoff, 3%-ish is average) of automated activity and at least 1000 tweets, we see sizable volume for tweets posted via VK (Russian Facebook-esque social network.) What's the deal?
The VK activity in the 2020 hashtags comes from 21 very similarly-named accounts. Account names are the display name with "Im" prepended (e.g., "Alberta Swift" = "@ImAlbertaSwift.) All tweets were posted via VK, and none tweeted before 2018 (despite some being created in 2015.)
What do these 21 automated accounts actually do? They mostly tweet links to ebay; the 2020 hashtags are used in tweets hawking swag with candidates' names on it. It seems likely that this is happening without the awareness or consent of the candidates/campaigns in question.
The 21 ebay/VK sales spambots don't prefer any given candidate: #Bernie2020, #Warren2020, #Klobuchar2020, #Yang2020, #Cory2020, #Kamala2020, #Biden2020, #Joe2020, #Julian2020, #Tulsi2020, #Beto2020, and #Booker2020 are all used along with unrelated hashtags such as #YearOfThePig.
Lurking in the #Trump2020 dataset we find a set of three "TRUMP WHITE GENOCIDE" bots that we've encountered before. . .
Sometimes hashtags attract bots, and this thread summoned @BernieBot_2020 which (unsurprising from the account name) retweeted the tweet containing #Bernie2020. It looks like a straightforward retweet bot that amplifies #Bernie2020, #FeelTheBern, #NotMeUS, and #NoMiddleGround.
Onward from automation to media sources. Three broad categories of websites (and some outliers) are linked from tweets containing 2020 hashtags:

* Western MSM
* Official campaign sites/campaign swag/donations
* Ebay spam (related to VK botnet discussed earlier in this thread)
Some of the more interesting outliers include a parody #DeBlasio2020 website (billdebiasio . com #keming), Reddit links in #Bernie2020, #Pete2020, #Sanders2020, #Tulsi2020, and #Yang2020 tweets, and (probably unsurprisingly) fringe right-wing sites in #Trump2020/#KAG2020 traffic.
Higher-resolution version of the diagram showing media links for all the hashtags available here:
Some accounts tweet more than one of the 2020 hashtags, sometimes within the same tweet. Most pairings are between hashtags for the same candidate but several cross-candidate pairings involving #Bernie2020, #Beto2020, #Biden2020, #Kamala2020, and #Warren2020 are common as well.
Here are the three hashtags most frequently seen in the same tweet as each of the 2020 hashtags. Many are unsurprisingly other variants on the candidates name, but some (i.e., #williamson2020) most frequently appear with hashtags promoting other candidates.
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