Fake News · Hoaxes · Information operations · Information Warfare

Fake/Sockpuppet Facebook Accounts

I belong to a few groups on facebook and I see bunches of posts which are fairly incendiary or biased to one extreme or the other, often in direct conflict with the nature of the group but mostly taking that group’s interest to the extreme.

Every day I report at least one account to Facebook, there is a fake account reporting option on the upper right of each profile. Today I reported an account which supposedly was in Texas, but on their profile, I scrolled down and the person was actually from Macedonia. That was the easiest determination I’ve ever made. A routine Facebook search on their name showed they made one posting per day with only a one word message. That same search showed that they belonged to a number of different groups and made *wait for it* one posting per day per group. Every posting had links to only one site: RiseAgainAmerica[dot]com.

Gee, where have I heard of that before?

If you don’t recall, Veles, Macedonia is the place where they built clickbait websites and earned tens of thousands of dollars per month…

Inside The Macedonian Fake-News Complex 

One paragraph stands out:

Within Veles itself, the young entrepreneurs behind these websites became subjects of tantalizing intrigue. Between August and November, Boris earned nearly $16,000 off his two pro-Trump websites. The average monthly salary in Macedonia is $371.

My conclusion is this is a fake account, a Sockpuppet account.

sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.

During the 2016 election, they made money by writing stories, mostly copy and pasting from alt-right sites, which were incendiary and the stories were immediately passed around to like-minded people. If someone was interested, they clicked on the link and *voila* perhaps one in one hundred would click on a link and earn them money. One percent of thousands of people will add up to a lot of money.

Now they are no longer relying on individuals circulating stories via Facebook, so they go to groups which have many like minded individuals.  They write a story, embed it with a bunch of links, ads too, post links to these “articles” in Facebook groups, and sit back and collect the money.

The secret is to maintain security and not get noticed. They build multiple, multiple accounts and may post only one link per day per group per account. If you have 30 accounts, that is a full-time job. At a salary of several thousand dollars per month, you earn more than almost the entire city…

So be aware and feel free to report a profile if it’s suspicious!  Facebook just hired a bunch of people to combat fake news…

One last point. Sockpuppet accounts are used for many, many different reasons, none of them good. Let’s be careful out there.



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