Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may recall an incident from almost three years ago, when some kind soul bought me around 18,500 mainly fake Twitter followers in order to discredit me. This “French Connection 2” moment came after the exposure of a number of clueless right-wingers for inflating their Twitter numbers with fakes, or, in the case of one still prominent MP, using a bot to increase their following.
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The MP - you can see my analysis HERE - was, to no surprise, Grant “Spiv” Shapps. And the first to be caught with what looked like around 50,000 fake followers was Mark Clarke, exposed by Sunny Hundal. Following that revelation, I called out André Walker, Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam, and Frank Manning. After that came the fake followers bought by someone else for me. And now the same dirty trick has been exhumed.
This time, the target has been Owen Jones, selected by the still clueless right-wingers because he is more popular than they are. Moreover, he was on the BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday, debating tax avoidance with the loathsome Toby Young. As Beckermann’s widow tells Charlie Croker in The Italian Job, it wasn’t an accident. Someone bought Jones fake followers, and not for the first time.
Who did the buying is not clear, but while Jones and Twitter head man Bruce Daisley were trying to clear out the fakes, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog chose to draw attention to themselves with their customary lack of style by running a singularly fraudulent post titled “Owen Jones Is Followed By The 1%”. The Fawkes folks had run an app over Jones’ followers which said 96% were fake.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the app The Great Guido was using apparently only samples recent followers. So here we have the most marvellous coincidence: someone buys Owen Jones loads of fake followers, then along come the Fawkes rabble - just on the off-chance, you understand - and find that, using an app that is known to sample only recent followers, almost all of his recent followers are fakes.
And they run that app on the day that Jones is garnering yet more media exposure. The crystal ball in operation chez Fawkes must be wonderfully accurate in its forecasting ability. Then another thought enters: the Fawkes entourage has “significant previous” when it comes to drawing attention to itself, as witness their being first out of the traps to publicise the Brooks Newmark sting - before their involvement was known.
Now, getting an honest admission out of Staines and his disciples in these circumstances is about as likely as getting a turd out of a rocking horse, but consider this: my Twitter fakes arrived after several of their pals got called out, and the last time they shouted too loudly, it was because they were in it up to their necks. Right now, my Occam’s Razor is wondering whether The Great Guido did this as an organised hit.
[UPDATE 19 February 1640 hours: An earlier version of this blog said that my Occam’s Razor concluded that Guido Fawkes was behind an organised attempt to stack Owen Jones’ Twitter account with fake followers, and then criticise him for that. As students of philosophy will understand, the reference to Occam’s Razor indicated that this was no more than a hypothesis - my personal opinion of the most likely explanation. The only reasons I had for reaching that view were clearly set out in the article. Guido Fawkes has written to me, threatening to sue me for libel, and saying that he was not behind the hit. Readers can deploy their own Occam’s Razor and decide for themselves. My solicitor’s response to his letter is HERE]
I follow Owen Jones on Twitter because he talks sense and is not afraid to speak out. I am a real person and not a fake. Of course that is of no interest to right wing hacks.
By the way, Mr Jones took @toadmeister to the cleaners on Daily Politics yesterday, but that won't interest the hacks either.
So you reckon this could be a "Gun Powder" plot?
Toby Young was a disaster on Daily Polictics. Constantly playing the man and not the ball to avoid actually discussing the issue in hand.
I follow Jones on Twitter and have done for a year or so. I disagree with almost all of his politics, but it's nasty gutter stuff to buy him fake followers in an attempt to discredit him. Good for him that he was switched on enough to tweet about it when he noticed the fake followers coming (but bad for him that he had to be).
If it emerges that Guido is behind this then that would be totally pathetic. I can see the public interest angle for Newmark sting but this would be totally wrong (if they did it).
Doesn't Guido base his own blog somewhere (Bermuda?) where he can't be sued for libel? Hmmm.
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