Bot Sentinel CEO Says Women With Left-Leaning Politics Often Get More Coordinated Hate on Twitter
Bot Sentinel is a non-partisan platform developed to classify and track bots and trolls.
Who is behind social media trolling campaigns? That's what Christopher Bouzy, CEO of Bot Sentinel, is trying to find out. Bot Sentinel is a non-partisan platform developed to classify and track bots and trolls.
"What we're looking for is the coordinated attacks, the coordinated smear campaigns, because we're then trying to understand, well, what is it that's driving this stuff?" Bouzy explains.
"And yes, a lot of it is race. A lot of it is about misogyny. It's just a cesspool of craziness."
Bot Sentinel has tracked millions of Twitter users, some spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. And the platform's list of unsafe accounts is accessible to the public.
Bouzy says recent victims of coordinated social media attacks include Vice President Kamala Harris, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, and even teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
Bouzy notes that although disinformation and targeted attacks aren't exclusively against women, women of color, and public figures with politics that skew to the left, most of them are.
"Disinformation and targeted attacks isn't exclusive to one side or the other. Both sides engage in this," he said.
"The difference is, it's overwhelmingly from one side to the other. We do see attacks from the left to the right, we do. And we do see attacks on men and stuff and like that. But it's predominantly right to left, and it's predominantly women and women of color."
Bouzy says Bot Sentinel's latest report digs deep into accounts spreading hate and misinformation about Meghan Markle. "They're set up specifically to defame her, to vilify her," he reveals.
And it's not just a few tweets here and there. Some of these accounts are sending 300 to 400 tweets a day.
"So it's either one person who's not getting a lot of sleep or multiple people using the same account. And we found quite a few accounts like this," Bouzy adds. "So that's one of the signs we look for when we're looking for coordinated activity where we're looking at people that are part of a smear campaign."
Bot Sentinel's investigation uncovered over 300 accounts made specifically to spread hate about the Duchess of Sussex.
They've isolated 55 accounts that have created original anti-Meghan content. That is amplified by 30 secondary accounts, which are then shared and retweeted by hundreds of others.
"One particular account that we found that's tweeting about the Duchess of Sussex was pretty much tweeting four to five to six times sometimes within a minute, which is insane," Bouzy notes.
He adds that trolls are getting organized away from Twitter before launching their coordinated attacks.
"And it's much harder for companies like Twitter to stop this because it does not look on the face of it as coordination," he said.
"These accounts swarm almost at the same time, and they flood the tweets with just some of the most horrific stuff."
Bouzy hopes Bot Sentinel's investigations will help people learn to navigate online hate and recognize which accounts are safe to engage with.
And despite its faults, Bouzy says he still thinks Twitter is one of the better social media platforms.
"We have to really sit down and think about how we're going to make platforms safer for individuals to be able to talk without fearing offline threats and things like that. Because just remember, a lot of the stuff that's happening on these platforms are spilling into our neighborhoods."
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