South Africa

Defenders of the Gupta realm: South Africans join the bots and find all the usual suspe

By Marianne Thamm 26 June 2017

Paid/Mechanical Twitter never sleeps. On Friday, while the rest of us might have been numbing our pain, Twitter Gupta bots were beavering away, plotting the collapse of WMC all in the name of GET (Gupta Economic Transformation). Andrew Fraser, an independent marketing strategist, also worked on Friday tracking the Gupta/WMC Twitter network. The end result, a graphic rendition of Gupta bot activity that looks like the flight schedule of a very busy city airport. By MARIANNE THAMM.

By Friday, Fraser told Daily Maverick, he had become so irritated by the Gupta bots over on Twitter that he decided to track them to determine if there were any discernible patterns. Assisted by Marc Smith, director of the Social Media Foundation, Fraser produced on Monday two graphs representing various clusters of Twitter users and which he posted on his Twitter account @Arfness.

The only pattern to the untrained eye appears to be the zealous activity of several clusters of or groupings based on algorithms tracking popular hashtags or phrases (no prizes for guessing which these might be).

It is no surprise then to learn that some of the usual Zuma/Gupta praise singers topped the list tracked by Fraser, including Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi and Andile Mngxitama as well as the newly-established WMC Leaks account which popped up in May as amaBhungane, Daily Maverick, and other media began to publish the damning contents of the #GuptaLeaks trove.

Of course the names of individuals and media the Gupta bots target relentlessly also feature, including Ferial Haffajee, Peter Bruce, Pravin Gordhan, Johann Rupert and Sam Sole.

You can explore Fraser and Smith’s results here and here.

The graphs are interactive and list top hastags, top tweeters, top tweets as well as top domains and URLs.

Fraser and Smith’s Gupta bot graphic comes as South Africans celebrated a minor victory over UK based global spin doctors Bell Pottinger on the weekend when a barrage of complaints from South Africans forced the PR firm to lock it’s Twitter profile. DM

Photo: Fraser and Smith’s Gupta bot graphic.


Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.

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