In Nigeria, a social media campaign targeting #EndSARS activists and NGO's has surfaced in recent weeks.

The same accounts also share content propping up the Nigerian army, President Buhari and the incumbent government.

My latest for @DFRLab on this:

medium.com/dfrlab/nigeria…
Two networks - a sockpuppet network of mostly fresh accounts, and an influencer network consisting of high follower digital marketers - were involved in this operation.

Seen here is the network of accounts using the #onenigeria #endviolence #LetLoveLead hashtags.
This network appeared as fears of a possible cover up mount.

Despite denying deployment to the #LekkiTollGateShooting on 20 Oct, in a cascade of admissions the Nigerian Army has gradually conceded that their soldiers were at the scene, albeit firing blanks.
Together, the two networks amplified centrally created graphics in a loosely coordinated manner.

These graphics used the same graphical elements (the quotes), the same typeface and followed similar quote-style formats.
The influencer/digital marketer accounts had large followings and were in some cases overtly supportive of the Nigerian government.

The size of each of these circles represents how many times the account tweeted, was retweeted or mentioned while using the hashtags.
Conversely, many of the sockpuppet network of accounts were freshly created. In one instance, three of the accounts were created in the span of only five minutes of each other.

They also followed each other in a very obvious manner.
These accounts also shared the same graphics seen in the influencer network.

They retweeted and quote tweeted each other extensively, creating a dense spiderweb of interactions. All of these retweets an
Even when older counts were found, there was evidence that the accounts were brought out of hibernation.

In some cases these accounts returned after months or years of inactivity to spam the same #OneNigeria #LetLoveLead and #EndViolence hashtags and graphics.
This seems to be an attempt to directly counter the popularity of the #EndSARS on social media.

A combination of positive spin, the delegitimisation of protests and suppression of protest participation could be seen in the content shared by these accounts.

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More from @jean_leroux

20 Nov
As expected, Sfiso Gwala has now deleted the tweets in which he claimed foreign nationals attempted to abduct his child.

This is a pattern of behaviour from him, deleting tweets and denying ye tweeted.

As always though...the internet remembers. Archived posts are in the thread.
It started here when he tried taking credit for the Tracy Zille investigation.

He didn't know we knew his name...and he deleted the tweet.

When he claimed he was hacked by Zimbabweans and was actually called "Thabo Ndlovu"...deleted 👇

Strange how this little discrepancy is never mentioned.
Read 5 tweets
21 Oct
This.

The rise in human trafficking claims started after social media platforms began suppressing Qanon related content in early August.

Qanon supporters pivoted into SaveOurChildren to dodge these measures.

Local xenophobes in turn co-opted this to suit their narratives.
Case in point: you're favourite neighbourhood xenophobe couldn't help but add foreign africans to a post circulating since at least 2018.
The newer, updated post has the hashtags #SaveOurChildren included, which the old 2018 posts didn't - a nod to the Qanon influence in the resurgence of these kind of claims.
Read 4 tweets
16 Sep
On August 21, a Twitter thread identified several South African Twitter accounts as fake Chinese Communist Party accounts pushing for a national lockdown.

My investigation for @DFRLab found these were actually regular South Africans.

medium.com/dfrlab/south-a…
The author of the thread, Mike Senger, is an Atlanta based tax consultant and a staunch anti-lockdown activist. His bio claims "lockdowns are CCP propaganda", and his Facebook page is bannered with anti-lockdown images. Image
The thread identified 25 "fake CCP accounts" but stopped short of explaining the basis for this attribution.

Locally, anti lockdown activists amplified the thread despite the lack of proof, a clear example of confirmation bias driving the amplification. Image
Read 10 tweets
23 Aug
This is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

BizNews used their own comments section as the source for this piece.
Great comments on COVID from experts such as "NikNaks" and "AE Neuman" (the character from MAD magazine), noted for their peer reviewed publications in the BizNews comment sections. 🤦‍♂️
It gets better.

BizNews says "These [i.e. NikNak's] sentiments are echoed all over the world."

Proceeds to quote from one Twitter account thats a Bill Gates vaccine/microchip conspiracist.

WTF is this @alechog ?
Read 6 tweets
13 Jul
The Twitter account @uLerato_Pillay hides its afrophobia behind a thin veneer of nationalism.

In an earlier investigation for @DFRLab, @wildknight and I traced the origins of the account to pin a real name to it:

Sfiso J Gwala

medium.com/dfrlab/afropho…
Gwala's tweets frequently contain afrophobic sentiment directed at Nigerians and Zimbabweans living in SA.

Hashtags it amplifies are inherently nationalist and serve as dogwhistles for even further afrophobic sentiments.
(For example: shortly after my piece on #TracyZille was published last week, Gwala attempted to take credit for contributing to the investigation, and claimed without evidence that Matumba was a Zimbabwean national.

He deleted his tweet after being called out and named.)
Read 14 tweets
10 Jul
Earlier this week, #TracyZille was propelled to the top of SA's trending lists by her controversially racist tweets.

My investigation for @DFRLab tracked down the man making money from the account: a government official and EFF councillor from Makhado.

medium.com/dfrlab/governm…
Tracy Zille's tweets were meant to shock and spark outrage, attracting users to its profile where it tweeted click-bait links to off platform websites.

The aim? Monetise the traffic through Google @AdSense adverts on the site.
Even though he tried to hide his association with these websites, our investigation identified that these three sites - and at least 5 more - used the same Google Adsense and Analytics codes, meaning the revenue they generate is paid to the same person.
Read 10 tweets

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