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Journalist finds Papua, West Papua propaganda Twitter bot network

Tempo - September 9, 2019

Friski Riana, Jakarta – Announced through his Twitter account, investigative reporter Benjamin Strick published his findings on Twitter bot network intentionally used to promote Papua and West Papua pro-government propaganda.

Tempo was granted permission from Benjamin (@BenDoBrown) to republish his tweets which reads; "I captured five days of tweets using #WestPapua & #FreeWestPapua tags after a crackdown by Indonesian forces against Papuans in Aug. What I found was a bot network spreading pro-govt propaganda," he said on Tuesday, September 3.

The journalist who also works freelance for Bellingcat analyzed the two hash tags from August 29, up to September 2nd, and compiled the accounts that tweeted, re-tweeted, or liked posts that had the tags.

Based on his analysis using an open source tool "Gephi", he visualized the network of interactions that is strongly suspected to be operated by Twitter bots based on what he calls "unnatural network pattern."

After detecting the irregular pattern, he then skimmed his analysis down to several accounts such as @marco26700420 and @kevinma40204275 which were both proven to be bot accounts constantly tweeting accompanied by hash tags such as #Westpapuagenocide, #Freewestpapua, and #Westpapua.

He determined that the two examples were definitely bots after conducting a reverse image search regarding the bot's profile pictures.

"A simple Yandex image reverse search on @marco26700420's profile picture leads us a little further down the rabbit hole – we can see it is not a genuine account," he tweeted on September 3.

In his series of extensive digital tracking Tweets, he maintains that the Twitter accounts show strong signs of being bots as they share similar contents using the same text and also follow each other in a vacuum environment that is void of human activity.

He argues that one other strong sign is that the Papua and West Papua propaganda tweets are run on routines.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1245332/journalist-finds-papua-west-papua-propaganda-twitter-bot-network