High-profile ‘TruckersforFreedom’ tweets boosted by accounts that also amplified ‘Pfizergate’

In a little over a week, a 99,900-tweet dataset declined by 6,959 tweets. Two users appeared in the top 100 most active accounts for truck hashtags and “Pfizergate vaccine disinformation.

E. Rosalie

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Key findings in this report

  • Between February 5 and 13, 2022, a dataset with 99,900 tweets declined by 6,959. Engagements disappear in three ways: voluntary deletion of the tweet, voluntary deletion of the account responsible for the engagement, or a user suspension.
  • Hoaxlines assessed a subset of missing engagements – a tweet, reply, quote, or retweet would be an engagement — and found that for MaximeBernier and TimCast, the majority of the engagements lost could be explained by user suspensions. Users behind the missing engagements often had recent creation dates.
  • Two users in the top 100 most active accounts for the truck-related hashtag dataset also appeared in the top 100 most active accounts for the Pfizergate hashtag in November 2021.
  • Suspensions explained most of the lost engagements we examined, but we also found that some users deleted the engagement and were still active on the platform. Other users deleted their accounts altogether.
  • Taken together, the evidence in this report suggests inauthentic activity may be boosting prominent promoters of truck-related hashtags. Suspension indicates that Twitter may be aware of this platform manipulation. Even if the platform cannot ascertain who is responsible for the activity, it is ethically questionable that the platform has not disclosed this. Twitter’s silence may leave users more vulnerable to influence efforts, allowing bad actors to sow chaos and potentially threaten national security.

Details about the data

The dataset reflects the query “freedomconvoy” and “truckersforfreedom” with tweets spanning from 17:36 on February 2 to 03:28 on February 5, 2022. Netlytic returned 99,900 records via the…

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E. Rosalie

Disasters & information (public health + nat sec) | Johns Hopkins alum | @COVID19Tracking alum | Mapping medical misinfo 💉 and information disorder