While Facebook battles with its fake news problem, Twitter is dealing with a different problem: fake accounts set up by the alt-right.
White supremacist website the Daily Stormer claims that it has already created thousand of what it refers to as “fake black person” accounts to troll Twitter and confuse its users. It is now urging its readers to do the same in retaliation for Twitter suspending high-profile rightwing users.
“We’ve got a big campaign coming up,” said Andrew Anglin, the founder of the Daily Stormer, in a post. “Twitter is about to learn what happens when you mess with Republicans.”
Here are Anglin’s instructions for creating a fake account: “Just go on black Twitter and see what they look like, copy that model. Start filling it with rap videos and booty-shaking or whatever else these blacks post. Read through their posts to get an idea of how they post. You need to be able to post in a manner which is indistinguishable from normal black tweeters.”
Twitter has been clamping down on hate speech after it refreshed its “hateful conduct policy” and introduced new tools to allow users to mute specific conversations or phrases from their notifications.
“Our hateful conduct policy prohibits specific contact that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease,” said the company.
A number of alt-right Twitter users – including white nationalist Richard Spencer, former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson and alt-right personalities Ricky Vaughn and John Rivers – have had their accounts suspended for breaching the policy.
In a YouTube video complaining about his suspension from Twitter, Spencer described the “great purge” as “corporate Stalinism”.
“I am alive physically, but digitally speaking, there have been execution squads across the alt-right,” he said.
It’s not clear what the alt-right plans to do with these newly created Twitter accounts, but Anglin seems intent on damaging the company, arguing that it won’t be able to “maintain its prominent role in the social networking market when it bans all non-SJW [‘social justice warrior’, aka liberal] political accounts and becomes a safespace hugbox”.
He told his readers that “further orders will follow shortly”.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article was written by Olivia Solon in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Thursday 17th November 2016 20.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010