He’s real, unashamed, and inescapable. Search #antivax, and you can’t miss @HealthRanger. He’s like the poster-boy for pseudo-science. But we’re not focusing attention on him. Buzzfeed reporter Stephanie M. Lee offers an insightful look — Inside the Anti-Science Forces of the Internet.
“ Perhaps the loudest voice in the anti-science news ecosystem is Mike Adams, a Texas software engineer turned media mogul who claims he cured himself of “chronic back pain, high cholesterol, depression, hypoglycemia, and borderline type-2 diabetes” through holistic medicine and a regimented diet. The transformation inspired him in 2003 to found the empire now known as Natural News (tagline: “The world’s top news source on natural health”).”
@HealthRanger’s always present in the #antivax conversation. These snapshots are representative of what we noted everyday for a month (July 12 to August 11, 2017).
We previously reported how noisy SocialBots are in connection with the hashtag #Vaccine. Rather than shining the spotlight on the number, the variety and voracious activity of the#antivax bots we uncovered, it’s a group we’re calling the un-Magnificent 7 that warrant special attention.
This collection of re-tweets amplifying the unhealthy Ranger’s fake science, stand out for a few reasons —
Within one minute of the original post, we noted the rapid lift off. Along with the rapid amplification, each tweet also features a unique and shared style of authorship in the way they mention Health Ranger. This group of seven are not displaying the “classic” re-tweet style like these noted below (overall we archived 22 re-tweets occurring within 20 minutes of the original post) —
Scrolling through this tweet stream it was spotting the “twins” Ronald and Ivan, that forced us to pause. Then it was the numbers 2266 (or the slight variations), and the fondness for the names Ivan and Robert (or variation — Bobbit). The un-Magnificent 7 seemed too connected, too patterned, and too programmatic not to look at further.
Other Similar Magnificent 7 Traits:
- Given their respective inhuman tweet volumes, they’re CyborgBots (50+ per day)
- The three Ivan’s, Ronald, and Robert Garcia all have the identical pinned tweet. While Robert and Bobbit have the same pinned tweet.
- Looking more closely at Ivan226622, it’s hard not to see a striking resemblance with “the twins”, Ronald and Ivan. It’s fair to call them “triplets.”
- The “who to follow” for each profile is an interesting algorithmic cross-pollination of Bots too.
New tweet, the same July day, the same pattern —
To ensure the behavior of the un-Magnificent 7 isn’t an anomaly, we jumped ahead to October and found the same-old, same-old.
Not that Bots have feelings, and we do not intend to give Bobbit a complex, but we forget to include him in our October scan. We corrected the error of our ways, and have all seven Bots riding the @HealthRanger pseudo-science bandwagon in November.
We documented for October 31st additional different posts re-tweeted on HealthRangers behalf -
- Ivan226622 - 3 more re-tweets
- Robert 2266– 9
- Ivan2266– 9
- Ronald — 7
- IvanTech — 7
- Robert Garcia -9
And on November 9th —
- Ivan226622–1 more re-tweets
- Robert 2266– 10
- Ivan2266– 7
- Ronald — 5
- IvanTech — 6
- Robert Garcia -12
These are not random or coincidental moments of social sharing. This is a coordinated, patterned, and programmatic effort to spread dangerous misinformation. We can’t answer questions like who’s operating HealthRanger’s un-Magnificent 7 gang, or why and to what ends? Trying to answer these kinds of important questions amounts to pure speculation on our part. Seeing patterns of programmatic behavior like this, give us a potential to start finding those answers. At the very least, maybe we can get bandits like these on the run.
FIND OUT WHY SOCIAL BOTS ARE SO DANGEROUS.
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