Lastly, I note that United Voice, the Australian Education Union and Greenpeace are now running high-rotation pro-Labor anti-Coalition ads on Sky. We will see if Sleeping Giants Oz goes soft on these advertisers, like it did by omitting the Australia Institute from an earlier Sky advertisers list.
The second disturbing development I outlined last year involves another influence campaign being conducted via Twitter to the benefit of the Australian Labor party.
This campaign spreads misinformation and political spam via a large web of mainly anonymous and also automated Twitter accounts which churn out similar, if not identical, pro-Labor, pro-union, anti-Coalition content, creating an echo chamber of reinforcing noise.
I identified nine such accounts. One narrowly missed the cut because it just didn’t tweet as much as the others – and get cracking, Alan – and was called JohnWren1950.
Last week, Twitter permanently suspended this account for impersonation, after John Wren posted a fake memo purportedly from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, using its letterhead.
Wren’s devious post – putting this obviously fake memo into the public domain under the ruse of wanting to confirm its authenticity –was a crude attempt to foment fake news.
Wren is now wallowing in his petty notoriety, penning a paranoid self-justification for Independent Australia.
He exhibits the remarkable facility of the left and those trolls I mentioned in my last speech of simultaneously complaining about being called out and, in doing so, verging on paranoia while basking in their 15 milliseconds of fame.
Witness Sir Clyde Of Nob, now dubbing himself “Lord Clyde Of HANSARD”, while Big Al now styles himself as “BigAl of Hansard fame but not a bot”.
The trolls I did mention and their apologists think they ought to be able to flood the Twittersphere with bile and bosh but escape scrutiny and then cry that they are being suppressed.
They are truly legends on their own laptops.
Even more revealing is their common misrepresentation – possibly due to illiteracy, but I suspect deliberate – of my speeches on these subjects as suggesting these Labor trolls were actual Russian bots when I was clearly just noting the similar methods used in their influence campaigns and the danger of both in the lead-up to the upcoming election.
But proving that truth is stranger than fiction, a recently released dataset of Twitter accounts identified as being from the Internet Research Agency, the infamous Russian troll factory, disclosed one account that, in late July to early August 2017, twice tweeted directly to the Labor troll virgotweet.
So here we have a Russian internet research troll talking directly to a Labor troll.
This IRA account that purports to be located in the United States predominantly retweeted Australian politicians and political commentators but notably twice tweeted virgotweet directly, suggesting this account was identified as a potential vector for pushing a specific agenda or debate.
It shows the risks, even for domestic trolls, of disseminating fake news and propaganda.
The Australian public should be conscious of the distortion of political sentiment via social media channels, especially as the public and media frequently use Twitter as a barometer of public sentiment.
Again, I call on Twitter to review accounts like those I have identified, which degrade its own platform.
Australians should be able to engage with the upcoming election campaign free from domestic as well as foreign social media interference campaigns.