, 12 tweets, 6 min read
[#Thread] 1/ This one is on #Iraq. A few people mentioned suspicious activity on Twitter and I had a look into a few hashtags. One in particular begins, "Show your support for the right of Iraq people to protest peacefully". I have little doubt there is an influence campaign...
2/ First, I just want to say this is not a commentary on Iraqi politics in general. I am not an Iraq expert, but I am interested in online opinion manipulation or campaigns. What follows is an analysis of tweets only...
3/I analysed about 16,700 tweets, replies, retweets from the hashtag I mentioned in Tweet 1. These tweets were produced by around 6,500 unique accounts. Most of the tweets were quite crude, and looked like what you see below, full of hashtags, some describing a 'revolution'>
4/ Firstly, as you can see from the below graph, the hashtags started trending quite suddenly at 3.30pm UTC on October 2nd. However one of the first accounts to post the hashtag was the one screenshotted here > @AlshiblyRamy - who has a lot of photos of Saudi and Iraq flags...
@AlshiblyRamy 5/ The most salient measure of inorganic activity is accounts created in a short time frame. Of the 6500 or so accounts in the sample, 1,118 were created in just 3 days - October 1st, 2nd and 3rd. That's astounding - around 17% of the sample! #Iraq
@AlshiblyRamy 6/ The majority of tweets are mentions of various news agencies or international organisations designed to raise the profile of the campaign. 1,179 of the tweets are identical, and contain just the hashtags. The majority of tweets are sent from Iphones (dunno how popular iphones
7/ are in Iraq versus others. Almost half are also from Android. The vast majority of tweets are replies, around 7,841 tweets. As I mentioned, these are mostly tweets at news agencies and international organisations. On trending hashtags we tend to see more retweets than this
8/ Location of the new accounts is largely irrelevant, as they are usually - by their very nature - designed to deceive. However, of the 1118 accounts created in three days, the majority do not have any locational data.
9/ So to sum up. There is almost certainly an influence campaign on Twitter to generate support for an Iraqi revolution. Almost 20% of all accounts tweeting one specific hashtag are likely fake. Dunno who is behind it, but I'd caution against talking heads emphasizing that this
10/ is a 'leaderless' uprising and citing social media as a source of inspiration. I don't doubt that per se, it just important to be cautious about the veracity of a lot of the content out there. Will have a closer look at some Arabic hashtags later. Thanks for reading! #Iraq
Just another quick point is that internet is being shut off in a lot of locations, making it less likely that these are set up in Iraq...
11/ For part two of the thread on Arabic trends please go here >
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