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B.They seek to manipulate public discourse and misinform. They are troll accounts that pose as “feminist” or “anti-fascist” profiles, and some even claim to belong to certain parties or hold public positions that sometimes do not exist. These profiles mix political content with other more grotesque to discredit them, a common pattern that we have seen over time, and that since Maldita.es we detail below.
Accounts posing as feminist profiles
Within the profiles that we have warned about, we have seen several accounts that define themselves as “feminists” in their biography. As we say, these misinformers share messages supposedly related to these ideas to later spread controversial content to discredit the movement.
This is the case of accounts like that of @TrinidadNovo, a profile that claimed in its biography that it was “feminist, social democrat and animalist.” But along with other feminist content she @TrinidadNovo she published a tweet, which went viral, in which she assured that it was necessary to “open the melon of the decriminalization of postpartum abortion”.
“There are women who end up in jail for getting rid of their babies after they are born. We need a law that exempts women from the charge of homicide if the babies are boys under one year of age,” the message said. But this account was a troll: there was no fingerprint of the person he claimed to be, his first follower and follower was a troll account, and the profile was created a short time ago.
Alleged public or political officials
Another of the modus operandi of these troll accounts is to impersonate alleged public officials of the Administration or political parties to spread misinformation.
@republicamurcia, an account that in its biography claimed to be “Third Vice-subdirector General of the Spanish Agency for Public Health (sic)”, included in its biography the initials of the PSOE, its header image showed an official government campaign and maintained a link to the page “psoe.org”, despite the fact that the party’s official page is “psoe.es”.
During the demonstration in defense of public health that took place on November 13 in Madrid, this account began to spread a message that went viral, assuring that there were people from other autonomous communities who attended the demonstration on PSOE buses and that these attendees would have received “A ticket to get a lunch and a help of €20 for travel”. But it’s a troll profile: the organization in which he claims to work does not exist, no appointment with this name appears in the BOE, he uses profile images that are not his and has spread more misinformation.
Alleged supporters of the PSOE or Podemos
There are not a few cases in which we have seen misinformers pose as PSOE or Podemos militants to disseminate this content. In this case, fake profiles are used that share content from these parties and participate in some conversations as if they were related to the party. to introduce disinformative messages that are spread by other people, believing that these profiles are authentic.
The profile @MariCarmenSoe is an account that defines itself as a “former employee” and “pensioner” and identifies itself as “feminist, progressive and eco-sustainable”, in addition to having a photo of Pedro Sánchez as the header and a rose as the profile image .
This account also spread misinformation during the demonstration for public health, ensuring that more than “a million people” attended the demonstration and that “almost all” wore boots “to kick faces”and also disseminating that people from different parts of Spain attended the demonstration “to fight for Madrid’s health”. But this profile assures in his biography that it is a parody account,
Troll accounts interact with each other
Another key to these troll accounts is that they do not act in isolation, but they maintain communication with each other. Analyzing several of these profiles through the tool twitonomy, we can see how most of the interactions of these accounts are with other trolls. For example, the account @tonigomezpe, a disinforming profile that we have already told you aboutmaintains a high number of interactions with other troll accounts such as @adela_zapatones Y @rosarilloa.
Troll accounts are “harmful and harmful” and can generate misinformation
Madrigal affirmed to Maldita.es that what these types of profiles want is to “produce damage and threats” since they are “harmful” accounts that can attack in all directions or in only one direction. Unlike parody accounts, trolls, according to Carlos Sánchez Almeida, a lawyer for the Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information (PDLI)do not pursue an “artistic or humorous” purpose and, therefore, they would not be “prosecuted” by justice if not “they commit a crime of cyberbullying, against moral integrity or a hate crime, among others.”
As we already explained in Maldita.es, troll accounts can produce misinformationsomething that is already being investigated in studies such as the one carried out in the Polytechnic University of Valencia next to the Sorbonne Paris Nord University or the one published by the American Journal of Public Health. These articles conclude that trolls “are one of the main sources of hateful, false and misleading messages online” or that they may have “a significant effect on online communications about vaccination.”
How to spot a troll account
As stated by Marcelino Madrigal to Maldita.escomputer expert in network analysis, “the way of constantly tweeting and always mentioning accounts and the same contents” can give a clue as to whether an account is a troll.
Although trolls are more difficult to identify than parody accounts or faketo detect this type of profiles and that they do not strain you with their publications, you can follow a series of tips:
- His profile photo is not his own and is taken from the internet. We have detected that several of these accounts do not use his images, but other images taken from the network. A reverse search is your ally to detect if these profiles are who they say they are.
- Profile creation date is recent. Misinformers often maintain their activity consistently across multiple accounts if they are suspended. Check that the profile has not been created recently.
- They tweet consistently in the same time frame. Troll accounts usually maintain a very intense and regular activity.
- Look to which Twitter lists they belong to or if they are active with other troll accounts. As we mentioned, misinformers usually interact with other similar profiles. Seeing which lists they belong to, or who they interact with through tools like Twitonomy can clear up any doubts.