It's hard to get followers on Twitter.
After starting a new account (make sure to get a good photo, and the best-available handle), it usually takes time to work your way out into that world, following people in the hopes of getting follows-back, replying to them, in the hopes their followers follow you.
Real-life name recognition helps, but ultimately, the Twitter economy trades on the strength of the tweets.
This is not a good tweet.
Just getting the Minneapolis chapter put up!— ANIFA Minneapolis (@MPLS_ANTIFA) April 1, 2017
Since Saturday April 1, when that debut tweet was published, the @MPLS_ANTIFA account has not posted another original tweet, and has retweeted three other accounts.
Last time the EDL did a protest in London after a terror attack there were 3,000 of them. This time they couldn't get 100. They're finished.— London Anti-fascists (@ldnantifascists) April 1, 2017
As you can see, so far, it's been pretty boring.
And yet, on the strength of these four posts -- one original, three derivative -- the @MPLS_ANTIFA account has accumulated more than 6,000 followers in less than 48 hours.
How the hell does that work? Local activists in the (actual) anti-fascist scene smell a rat.
For starters, almost all of the account's sudden supporters don't look like real people themselves. By racking up fake follows, an account gains the veneer of authenticity... so long as no one clicks through to see who all those other accounts are.
(Note: There is reason to doubt that @RealTigerWoodz is, in fact, the Twitter account of famed golfer Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.)
@MPLS_ANTIFA's follower list goes on and on like this for dozens, sometimes hundreds of accounts at a time, with the occasional real follow sprinkled in.
Local tech/transparency blogger Tony Webster's calling bullshit.
@MPLS_ANTIFA Care to explain how you created your account today, but have 1,863 followers—mostly spam accounts?— Tony Webster (@webster) April 2, 2017
There's reason to be suspicious, even beyond the obvious curiosities with @MPLS_ANTIFA's appearance. Fake anti-fascist Twitter accounts have recently popped up in Boston (that account was apparently run by a right-winger out of Oregon) and Philadelphia, and, according to this list... almost everywhere.
Really, looking at that rundown, Minneapolis should mostly be pissed off we didn't make the cut earlier. Aspen got a fake anti-fascist account before us? Cape Cod?
What's the point of all this subterfuge? Is the alt-right trying to infiltrate Twitter's left wing? A set-up, to stage fake events? Or see what they can get gullible socialists to retweet?
Maybe it's the Russians!
More than likely it's a plot hatched deep in a 4chan thread, where, as we speak, some alienated young "patriot" is coming up with a new in-word that means "laughing at 'cucks' who follow fake anti-fascist Twitter accounts." And what a full life he must be leading.
Never stop believing in the internet's ability to make you stop believing in everything.
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