Over one hundred fake accounts are connected with #ESTexitEU


Propastop has published a series of postings that explore the networks that spread somes (in social media) fake news and socially disruptive political statements. In the first story, we showed that the announcement on the Vkontakte environment was fake news. In the second posting, we discovered that the spreaders of the fake news topic #ESTexitEU were fake accounts that are connected with Russia.

Today we show that there are over one hundred of these fake accounts in the network.

We consider accounts with the following attributes as possibly being fake:

  • Accounts have been created recently, from September to today. They do not have a long history.
  • The images on the account are taken from other online accounts or from the internet. There is no unique, user-related image material. Some accounts have no pictures at all.
  • The accounts only share retrieved material from Twitter; they do not post any original material.
  • Shared account material is all with a similar pattern: at the same time, different accounts sync the same content in the same order.

The Twitter network

Our investigation on the Twitter some environment is based on three fake accounts that spread the #ESTexitEU topic: Heigo Ponn, Markus Roo and Genady Karpov.

Heigo Ponn is followed by 60 accounts on Twitter, of which at least 27 are with some fake account features. There are 55 Markus Roo followers, of whom 38 have fake account attributes. There are at least 27 accounts, which are doubtful among Gennady Karpov’s 90 followers. At least 20 suspicious accounts are in cross-use and are followers of at least two of the three.

We have collected all of the suspicious account data into this file.

The network’s fake accounts have retrieved different materials in different languages but there are especially a large number of topics related to Russia and Ukraine. Estonian language content is completely missing. Many postings are placed in a pattern, synchronously distributing the same content. An example is where the same Ukrainian themed posting was shared by six fake accounts at the same time. Such a pattern is a definite sign that a robot is posting accounts not a real person.

In a similar pattern, there are a number of accounts that were created earlier, in the fall of last year. Which gives grounds to suspect that the construction of the fake account network started much earlier than this autumn. On the other hand, it is characteristic of the Twitter network that no new members have been added to it in December or January, with the followers of all three examined accounts having been created in November.

Network on Facebook

In this some environment, the focus is on the ESTONERS community, which distributes the #ESTexitEU theme link. Of the seven administrators who moderated the community at the end of December, all have the characteristics of fake accounts.

It looks like the community has noticed that there is interest in them and has started to mix up its footprint. As of January 6., there are three administrators remaining: Kevin Lepik, Ivan Vasiliev and Daniil Männik. All of the original administrators have recently changed their profile pictures and closed the opportunity to see their list of friends, even though they were recently still public.

Propastop has been able to identify a list of at least 20 accounts related to the community that meet the criteria of being fake accounts: whether it has been recently created or built up on a foreign identity. You can find the list here.

If you know of a real person who has come to be on this list, please notify Propastop.


  1. There are over one hundred fake accounts that are associated with accounts that speak about Estonia. Most likely, there are many more, probably many hundred because we have not been able to trace all of them.
  2. The link with Russia seems more and more certain. In addition to the Russian ties to the fake pictures, the shared material is also inclined towards Russian content. The recurring Kremlin talking points brings the accounts into question. On Twitter, many fake accounts have marked their residence as Russia.
  3. There is great effort needed to build such a network. You can be sure that there are more people working on this than two or three individuals. A few individuals have not created this as a joke to create a couple of fake accounts to have some fun on the web. There is a sincere wish to influence the information space, showing that they have many powerful followers.

The next phase of Propastop’s investigation will be trying to bring out who is behind the creation of these networks.

Pictures: Susan Smith /Flickr / CC, a collage of screenshots.