On Tuesday, Twitter removed two fake accounts that spammed tweets about Black people leaving the Democratic Party.
According to NBC News, the fake accounts used pictures of Black men as their profile pictures to create the illusion they were run by Black people. One of the accounts, @WentDemtoRep, was created on Tuesday and used a Black man as its profile picture.
Shortly after its creation, the account posted a tweet about how the user was a lifelong Democrat who felt compelled to vote Republican as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. The account tagged @PeterGammo and @KRon619 in a reply to the tweet; both were fake accounts that also used images of Black men for their profile pictures.
A spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to NBC News that all three accounts had been suspended due to spam and “specifically, artificially manipulative behavior.”
At least five different tweets from the accounts had been retweeted up to 10,000 times. A tweet from @Kron619 that claimed the user was a “Dem my whole life” before he “left the Dems last month,” received over 12,000 retweets. Another tweet from the account that pleaded for “Blacks and whites” not to let “the Democrat media and the communist rioters divide us,” received almost 12,000 retweets as well.
Twitter also deleted the account of Peter Gammo, a Turkish man based in San Diego. The @KRon619 account repeatedly retweeted Gammo, who frequently tweeted pro-Trump messages and footage from the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken hold across the country. When NBC News contacted Gammo he denied running the spam accounts and said he only knew the accounts from Twitter.
From NBC News:
Posts viewed by NBC News from WentDemToRep and Kron619 were copied and pasted and separately tweeted hundreds of times by other accounts that were created this month claiming to be those of African Americans.
This sort of repeated posting of a single string of text, sometimes used to troll or simulate support, is known as posting “copypasta,” which Twitter said in a statement has increased in recent days.
“We’ve seen an increase in ‘copypasta,’ an attempt by many accounts to copy, paste, and Tweet the same phrase. When we see this behavior, we may limit the visibility of the Tweets,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a tweet.
“The point is to provide ammunition against Black people for policymakers so they can point to things that are being said, allegedly from a Black person’s account, to reinforce the idea that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist threat and put them on equal footing as white nationalists in terms of content moderation,” Brandi Collins-Dexter, a fellow at online racial justice nonprofit Color of Change, told NBC News.
These digital manipulation campaigns are nothing new, sadly. During the 2016 election, Russia’s Internet Research Agency utilized a “troll farm,” to create memes aimed at Black voters to depress the turnout for then-Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to American intelligence agencies. Collins-Dexter referenced a more recent campaign by members of the internet cesspool that is 4Chan.
In April, users on 4Chan posed a Black people who had received their stimulus check and bragged about using them on alcohol in “an effort to perpetuate the ‘Welfare Queen’ myth,” Collins-Dexter told NBC News. On Wednesday, one of the most viral tweets from @WentDemtoRep was posted as a copypasta to 4Chan multiple times.