- Twitter recently identified six foreign networks of inauthentic accounts, a new report says.
- Many accounts from some networks have indulged in speeches about the midterm elections in the United States.
- The fraudulent far-right account “Ultra MAGA BELLA Hot Babe” had amassed over 26,000 followers.
Twitter has deleted the ‘ULTRA MAGA BELLA Hot Babe’ account after it reached tens of thousands of followers spreading conspiracy theories and it was discovered it was likely run by someone in China, according to a new report.
The account was a node in a network of accounts, many of which were managed by one or more people in China. Twitter removed it as part of a broader effort to weed out foreign networks of authentic accounts trying to influence the 2022 U.S. midterm elections. Twitter identified “six separate inauthentic networks with technical ties to Iran and China,” according to the report, which was released Tuesday by the Election Integrity Partnership research coalition.
“ULTRA MAGA BELLA Hot Babe” (using the handle “SimplyBellaH”) was one of the deleted accounts, as first reported by The Washington Post. The account had amassed more than 26,000 followers and was the most influential of its small network of fraudulent pages, according to the report.
The ‘ULTRA MAGA BELLA’ account shared several conspiracy theories
The account has shared several conspiracy theories with its audience, including a tweet with false claims about transgender children and another calling Barack Obama a “lizard person member of the Illuminati,” according to the Washington Post. The account also posted a meme that appeared to reference baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 election.
The most popular tweet from the account, which was the most liked tweet from the entire network of 22 accounts, was a response encouraging Republican candidate Herschel Walker after his nomination to run for the US Senate, according to the report. The account has garnered more than 180,000 retweets and 400,000 total likes, and may have grown its fan base by participating in “Trump trains”, where supporters are encouraged to follow each other to increase their visibility, according to the Post. .
The Twitter account is no longer visible because it was deleted. But it’s still possible to see the handle tagged in numerous pro-Trump posts and conversations that appear to be “Trump trains,” with dozens more tagged in the long strings of posts.
“Thanks Bella for the great ride, always a pleasure,” one user wrote in response to a now-deleted post by fraudulent account SimplyBellaH, using the hashtag “IFBAP” – “I’m all patriots.”
Most of the accounts in this network, which together posted more than 250,000 tweets, posted mostly right-wing content and shared messages in support of Trump’s allied candidates for the 2022 midterms, the report said.
Renee DiResta, senior researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory and one of the report’s co-authors, tweeted that such networks have the ability to grow and cause harm if content moderators don’t take action. measures to stop them.
“These networks remain relatively small to medium and non-impacting ONLY IF platforms and others continue to disrupt them; different stakeholders have visibility into different signals,” DiResta said. “Working transparently is key.”
Three of the networks Twitter removed were likely based in China, according to the report, while the other three were tied to Iran (and one with ties to Israel). A progressive support account in an Iranian network, “10Votes81,” was also a moderator of the Bernie Sanders-themed “Political Revolution” Reddit page, according to the Post.
The discovery of these foreign networks attempting to influence US policy comes at a tumultuous time for Twitter, which has just been acquired by Elon Musk, who has vowed to prioritize “free speech”. He told advertisers he wouldn’t let Twitter turn into a “gratuitous hellscape”, but in recent days there has already been a coordinated campaign to spread anti-Semitic messages on the platform and a surge in use of racist language.