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

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group