Sunday, 23 February 2020

Twitter Suspends 70 Bloomberg-Boosting Accounts For ‘Platform Manipulation’

Twitter is suspending 70 accounts that support Michael Bloomberg’s campaign, finding that they have posted identical messages in an effort to commit “platform manipulation.”
“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman told the Los Angeles Times. Some of the suspensions will be permanent, but account owners will also have the chance to verify their control.
Bloomberg, worth an estimated $64 billion, has already dropped nearly $500 million into the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He is deploying a social media outreach as part of his campaign, hiring hundreds of temporary employees to fire out campaign messages through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Dubbed “deputy field organizers,” the volunteers are paid $2,500 per month to push out “campaign-approved language,” The Times reported.
In posts reviewed by The Times, organizers often used identical text, images, links and hashtags. Many accounts used were created only in the last two months. Bloomberg officially entered the presidential race on Nov. 24.
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.”
The Bloomberg campaign responded after the Twitter suspensions.
“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,” Sabrina Singh, a spokesman for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement. “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.”
The former New York City mayor has spent more than $463 million in the first two months of his campaign, according to a report filed to the Federal Election Commission. In January alone, Bloomberg dumped $220 million of his own money into his campaign — an average of more than $7 million per day. Those expenditures including $126 million on TV ads and $45 million in online advertising.
Before he entered the race, Bloomberg vowed to take no outside money and spend only his own cash, a vow to which he’s stuck.
“According to a campaign aide, the campaign has hired more than 2,100 employees throughout the country and are still in the process of hiring more. A campaign break down of the disclosure report shows it spent over $7 million in payroll last month alone,” ABC News reported.
Yet Bloomberg isn’t getting a lot for the money hew’s poured into the campaign. The mayor stands at just 12% in the most recent national poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov. A couple of other national polls put him a few points higher.
RealClearPolitics keeps a running average on odds from online betting sites. Bloomberg had soared up the charts in recent days, hitting 34.6% on Valentine’s Day, nearly catching Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who stood at 39%. But those odds crashed after Bloomberg’s dismal performance in his first televised debate on Wednesday.
The day after the debate, the odds of Bloomberg winning the nomination plunged to 21.8%, while Sanders’ odds soared to 51.8%.

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