Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to blanket social media by creating what appears to be a wave of popular support has run afoul of Twitter’s rules in what The Washington Post has dubbed a “copy-and-paste scheme.”
On Friday, Twitter suspended 70 accounts posting content in a manner that violated the social media platform’s rules, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The campaign’s strategy has been to have identical messages supporting the former New York City mayor sent out by multiple accounts whose users are in fact paid campaign staff. But in Twitter-speak, that’s a no-no.
“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman told The Post.
Unlike campaigns that hire workers as part of a ground game in a state that is up for grabs, the Bloomberg campaign has hired its workers to fight the campaign’s fight online through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What the campaign has dubbed “deputy field organizers” are given language by the campaigns to use on social media, and many of the posts that the LA Times examined have used those same identical words.
Twitter accounts being set up by the Bloomberg account were suspended citing manipulation. This is diabolical @MikeBloomberg! Thank you to @Twitter for taking action, unlike the cesspool at @Facebook https://t.co/Dx6DqbZWb8
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) February 22, 2020
For example, four separate accounts used the same phrase to send Twitter users to tweet by singer Barbra Streisand.
“A President Is Born: Barbra Streisand sings Mike’s praises. Check out her tweet,” the post read.
Breaking: Twitter suspends 70 accounts posting pro-Michael Bloomberg content, citing rules on paid and duplicate tweets https://t.co/MnGzrdTfUN
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 22, 2020
Twitter, when informed of the tactic, called the technique a violation of its “Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy.”
Twitter said the Bloomberg campaign’s cut-and-paste tweets 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.”
Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, said there had never been any intent to mislead potential voters.
“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,” she told the Times.
According to CNBC, Facebook also has concerns over content that is coming from campaign staff paid to spread the word about Bloomberg.
CNBC, which cited an unnamed source, said Facebook “is concerned about a lack of transparency in how Mike Bloomberg’s field organizers are using the platform to advocate for his presidential campaign, without identifying that they work for him.”
The report said Facebook is considering having campaign staff who post on Bloomberg’s behalf disclose that they are being paid to praise the candidate.
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