A few Twitter accounts working overtime in defense of governor ahead of trial, report

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In the lead up to the release of the report from Missouri House committee investigating the sitting governor, and with a little over a month until Gov. Eric Greitens is on trial, a few Twitter accounts are working overtime.

JusticeWarrior, an account that is barely a month old, spent Tuesday attacking the credibility of Rep. Jay Barnes and the special investigative committee.

Straight Don Lemon, a self-described parody account that is almost two months old, shows no hesitation in claiming a lack of evidence against Greitens and that the prosecution is a witch hunt.

Rod Rosenstein is a Criminal, an account that is about six months old, constantly posts memes questioning the validity of the charges and saying there was no crime.

Stick n stones, an account that is about seven months old, is quick to the reply in defense of the Republican governor.

The accounts, and a few others, are quick to retweet each other, reply to each other, and reply to other Greitens-related tweets attempting to cast doubt on the investigation and charges.

But are these Twitter accounts “bots” as they are often accused of being, are they “trolls,” or are they normal people just trying to defend a governor they wholeheartedly believe in?

Forbes defines bots as “a social networking account powered by artificial intelligence.” Twitter bots are not people. Software autonomously tweets, retweets, likes, follows, unfollows, and such. Most Twitter bots send out tweets periodically or respond to instances of specific phrases, words, or hashtags in other user messages.

The first indicator of a bot is the account’s activity. A widely recognized benchmark is the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda team view that an average of more than 50 posts a day is suspicious.

Straight Don Lemon tweets on average 104 times a day, Rod Rosenstein is a Criminal averages 123 tweets a day, Stick n stones tweets roughly 20 times daily, and JusticeWarrior averages about 16 daily.

Those four accounts are all anonymous, with little to no personal information, an indicator of a bot. The lack of information is backed by a lack of profile picture or the use of a stolen or shared profile picture.

While they do check off several indicators of Twitter bots, there is a possibility of a real person behind the accounts.

Meanwhile, trolls are traditionally someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or disrupt the discussion.

Many accounts currently operating, including Straight Don Lemon, regularly interact with other active indentifiable accounts.

When the news of the indictment against Greitens broke, dozens of Twitter accounts posted identical tweets, linking to the same article.

From the activity on Twitter, it appears the accounts will continue in their mission to discredit the “witch hunt” against the governor by flooding the #moleg with tweets, retweets, and comments.

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