Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Twitter bots begin following Southeast Asian opinion-makers

Twitter bots begin following Southeast Asian opinion-makers

Hundreds of fake Twitter accounts have started following academics, journalists and government officials and agencies across Southeast Asia. DIPTENDU DUTTA/afp
Hundreds of fake Twitter accounts have started following academics, journalists and government officials and agencies across Southeast Asia. Diptendu Dutta/AFP

Twitter bots begin following Southeast Asian opinion-makers

Many journalists, academics and political figures across Southeast Asia have gained hundreds of new Twitter followers that appear to be bot accounts in the past week, including some with ties to Cambodia.

The accounts were created last month and have since followed hundreds of Twitter users, but most have not tweeted or accrued any followers themselves. They began appearing in large numbers late last week.

Hundreds of the accounts with Cambodian names have followed a variety of Cambodia-based Twitter users, including the Ministry of Education, the Quick Press Reaction Unit, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia Angela Corcoran, the CNRP’s DeputyDirector-general of Public Affairs Kem Monovithya, and dozens of reporters at Cambodia-based news outlets.

Journalists in Myanmar and Vietnam have also reported dozens or hundreds of new followers they suspect are bots, often with names common in their respective countries.

Twitter has long been tolerant of bot accounts, some of which have been shown to spread misinformation, false news reports and politically ideological content, most notably in the run-up to the US presidential election in 2016. In January, the company removed more than 50,000 Russia-related accounts that it found had posted automated content to the service.

Representatives from Twitter did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

In a February blog post, the company announced a series of rules banning users from posting or promoting identical content across multiple accounts, a popular tactic of bot operators.

“To be clear: Twitter prohibits any attempt to use automation for the purposes of posting or disseminating spam, and such behavior may result in enforcement action,” the post says.

It’s unclear whether the new Southeast Asia-based accounts violate Twitter’s terms of service, since most do not yet appear to be tweeting.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal