Mike Bloomberg isn't having the best February.
After taking a severe beating during last week's Democratic debate which saw a sharp reversal to his approval ratings (and boosted Bernie Sanders'), and a spate of vandals defacing his campaign offices which he blamed on Sandernistas, Bloomberg is now facing a Twitter bot scandal.
On Friday, the LA Times reported that Twitter began suspending 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts in a pattern that violates their rules against "platform manipulation."
Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been experimenting with novel tactics to cultivate an online following, or at least the appearance of one.
But one of the strategies — deploying a large number of Twitter accounts to push out identical messages — has backfired. On Friday, Twitter began suspending 70 accounts posting pro-Bloomberg content in a pattern that violates company rules.
“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman said. Some of the suspensions will be permanent, while in other cases account owners will have to verify they have control of their accounts. -LA Times
Bloomberg has hired an army of hundreds of temporary internet shills to canvass the interwebs and promote the billionaire candidate over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - and some say, 4chan. These "deputy field organizers" are paid $2,500 per month according to the Times.
After being fed pro-Bloomberg messaging, organizers were spewing often identical text, images, links and hashtags using accounts created in the last two months.
After The Times inquired about this pattern, Twitter determined it ran afoul of its “Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy.” Laid out in September 2019 in response to the activities of Russian-sponsored troll networks in the 2016 presidential election, the policy prohibits practices such as artificially boosting engagement on tweets and using deliberately misleading profile information.
By sponsoring hundreds of new accounts that post copy-pasted content, Twitter said the campaign violated its rules against “creating multiple accounts to post duplicative content,” “posting identical or substantially similar Tweets or hashtags from multiple accounts you operate” and “coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.” -LA Times
In a statement, Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said "We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts. Through Outvote [a voter-engagement app], content is shared by staffers and volunteers to their network of friends and family and was not intended to mislead anyone."
Perhaps Bloomberg can explain this during his next debate drive-by.