10 Oct

Shenanagins again and again

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I’ve written a lot about “winning” hashtags and how this is a boastful tool for organizations. Here’s what I wrote yesterday on it.

I’ve also written about trickery using Twitter. Here’s a good one.

But now I have a new story…

As I was going through the Azerbaijani election hashtags, I noticed something funny.


This is all the users that used the hashtag #azvote13 in the last day. Look at how many people opened a Twitter account on a few days in February of 2013.

So I went to look at what was going on in those days in February. Not only were those accounts made on the same day, but they were made within minutes of each other. (If they’re highlighted the same color, it was the same day.)



So it is possible that there was some sort of training where a bunch of people created Twitter accounts at the same time, so I looked more closely at these accounts made in these days in February.

They generally follow the same few people. They generally don’t tweet a lot. Most haven’t tweeted a lot until this election period. I did a search on Facebook for some of them and no Facebook profile came up for them. It is possible that these young people spell their name differently on Twitter and Facebook – but in general I find that most young Azerbaijanis pick one way to spell their names on social media and stick with it.

So what were they tweeting about on the #azvote13 hashtag?


The same thing. The red/pink tweets are duplicates and the orange highlight is the same time. And they are at the exact same minute.

While it is theoretically possible for tweets to happen at the same minute, 100 tweets at the same minute by accounts all made in the same few days within minutes of each other? That’s a stretch.

What is interesting about this:

– this is way less detectible than buying fake Twitter accounts because the names are Azerbaijani, the profile pictures look like Azerbaijani people, even though there isn’t a lot of evidence that they are real.
– it is entirely possible that these are real people, but regardless, I speculate that one person has all the passwords and probably uses a particular app to send out the tweets at the same time.
– UPDATE 10PM BAKU TIME: I did a quick reverse image search on some of the profile photos of some of the profiles. The photos are ones that people can download and use all over the place. Here are some links and PDFs 1 2 3. And here are the original profiles.
– so, nice try – this was certainly more sophisticated than prior attempts, but still a FAIL.

As always, I’m happy to share these Excel files for people to look themselves.