“The restrictions must be lifted. Yes, let yourself be made a fool of for a cold! ”
“Mass genocide is going on. By 2050, only 5 billion must remain. In short, it starts with the Elderly who are a burden on the system and not profit-makers and are simply consumers. That was what Satanist Henry Kissinger had said. “
“(Name) you have a malformed development. Do not click on others old woman, just sit at home and wait for your dose of poison vaccine.”
“It sows fear in people and gives the impetus to further restrict our rights and freedoms.”
“This isn’t an obstacle to vaccination if the virus doesn’t exist…”
These and many similar posts on Facebook have been written regarding articles published on Estonian media channels.
The editorial staff of Propastop noticed that dozens upon dozens of accounts were involved in the discussion on coronavirus-related articles on the FB pages of Estonian dailies and large internet portals. Such as Uncle Villi, Teele Toots, Cow, Viper, Snake, Mati Kavaler, Mura Vei, Kristiine Statoil, Daniel Hawks, Bob Lancaster, Knessu Ylem, Somebody New, Tobacco Toivo, Sita Adu, Steering Wheel Latt, Happiness Snippet, Joe Dren, Fish Man, Treasure Tbz, Keep Yourself, etc.
These and dozens of similar accounts do not represent any specific and actual person, but are someone’s anonymous cover accounts, meaning that analyzing the account’s name, content, posts, photos, and other material does not identify who the account actually represents.
Although some accounts have a large amount of personal content created, this does not provide a clear indication of the account holder.
The posts on the fake accounts include neutral debates, blatant criticism of the coronavirus, measures and photomontages that are against the fight against the coronavirus, as well as the clear dissemination of conspiracy theories.
What is a fake account?
Facebook says in its Terms of Service, “Our community is safer and more responsible when people are responsible for their opinions and actions. For this reason, you must: use the same name you use in everyday life; provide true information about yourself; create only one account (your own) and use your timeline for personal use; avoid sharing your password with others, giving others access to your Facebook account, or transferring your account to others (without our permission).
Therefore, fake accounts are all accounts that do not clearly and intelligibly represent a real person, but are either semi or completely anonymous, i.e. it is not possible to clearly state who is behind this account based on the data in the account.
Where do fake accounts operate?
Of the Estonian-language media, Postimees has the largest FB webpage, which is monitored by approximately 163,000 accounts, and the Delfi FB webpage by approximately 141,000 accounts. The FB webpage of the ERR news portal is monitored by approximately 19,000 accounts.
The activity of FB webpages in media channels is different. If, for example, ERR posts an average of three news items a day, but the editors of Delfi and Postimees publish their material on Facebook much more frequently and extensively.
Comments on coronavirus posts are escalating
In the recent period, there is a clear trend that coronavirus themed posts are popular for people and will be shared and commented on. While article posts on other topics usually receive 10-30 comments, the number of comments under coronavirus themed article posts usually starts at 50 and often reaches a few hundred.
In terms of the activity of the posts, Delfi is at the forefront, which is why the largest number of fake accounts is being edited in the commentary of their FB webpage. It has dozens and dozens of different fake accounts. There are a significantly smaller number of fake accounts trolling on Postimees’ FB webpage, and the ERR webpage has just a few.
Why is it dangerous?
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in the lives of most people. Social media shares fragments of your daily life, moods, thoughts, emotions, and argues or agrees with the opinions and views of others. That is why it is important to know who we are having discussions with on social media.
People’s beliefs can be influenced and directed by societal pressures, i.e. individuals often embrace the beliefs of a larger group. However, if this larger group, whose beliefs are beginning to be considered their own, is not a group of individuals, but a network of fake accounts of one person’s making, which only amplifies his or her worldview, then it is clearly a manipulation of information.
Such activities are often carried out to promote one’s own ideology, beliefs or economic interests, by provoking the concern or support of a larger group in society and thereby enlisting individuals to their cause. This is astroturfing, which you can read more about here.
Which accounts on the FB webpages of Estonian media outlets interfere in discussions, how they look and why we consider them fake accounts, will be published in our next post on Monday.