Stanford University: Pro-Vucic brigade on Twitter in Serbia

NEWS 03.04.2020 17:49
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Source: Printscreen/cyber.fsi.stanford.edu

After Twitter social network said it had removed thousands of accounts in different countries, including Serbia, seen to have been used as a propaganda tool for ruling parties and states' leaders, Stanford Cyber Policy centre analysed the 'killed' accounts, saying, among other things, that 8.5 million tweets in Serbia were linked to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) website, N1reported on Friday.

The Stanford analysis said that the accounts in Serbia „were primarily engaged in cheerleading current President Aleksandar Vučić and his allies, in attacking Serbia’s opposition, and in artificially boosting the popularity of Vučić-aligned tweets and content.“

„Among other things, the accounts appear to have focused on supporting Vučić’s run for president in 2017 and tamping down public support for the opposition protests known as ‘1 of 5 Million,’ which began in late 2018,“ Stanford analysis said.

It added that many of some 8,558 accounts existed earlier, but that „most of the network’s activity came in 2018 and 2019. The accounts sent more than 43 million tweets altogether.“

„The accounts served as a coordinated pro-Vučić brigade on Twitter. They constantly tweeted in support of Vučić—over two million tweets were sent with the hashtags #Vucic and #vucic—and derided his rivals and the „1 in 5 Million“ protests,“ the analysis showed.

It also said that the accounts „worked steadily to direct Twitter users to pro-Vučić news sources. Among their tweets were over 8.5 million links to sns.org.rs, informer.rs, alor.rs, and pink.rs, the official site of Vučić’s party and three Vučić-aligned news sites, respectively.

The analysis said that there could not been precisely connect the network of Twitter accounts to SNS, „there can be no doubt, given the content these accounts shared and the time period in which they were active, that this network was aligned with Vučić’s efforts to entrench himself and his party in power.

„In the meantime, asked about the news, Vucic said he didn’t have a Twitter account and did not know what that was about.

However, he has two accounts: @avucic and @predsednikrs