Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Spam Bots Flooding Twitter to Drown Info About #Syria Protests [Updated]

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Defining The Issues

People following the #Syria hash tag on Twitter in the recent weeks to track the developments of the Syrian protests and the deadly governmental crackdown on peaceful protesters must have noticed two major annoyances:

First was the proliferation of what tweeps dubbed as the “twitter eggs,” a group of newly created and mostly image-less twitter accounts that cussed out, verbally assaulted, and threatened anyone tweeting favorably about the ongoing protests, or criticizing the regime. Those accounts were believed to be manned by Syrian Mokhabarat[intelligence] agents with poor command of both written Arabic and English, and an endless arsenal of bile and insults. Several twitter users created lists to make it easier for the rest to track and report those accounts for spam. Here are a couple of examples.

Second, which is more damaging, is the creation of various spam accounts that mainly target #Syria hash tag; flooding it with predetermined set of tweets– every few minutes–about varied topics such as photography, old Syrian sport scores, links to Syrian comedy shows, pro-regime news, and threats against a long list of tweeps who expressed their support of the protests.

Identifying The Cause

At first I thought this was a badly timed annoyance, and several users were already reporting those abusive accounts. However, a couple of users apparently discovered some foul play. The parody account @SyrianPresident tweeted:

Stop it mukhabarat Twitter is not #Bashar’s spam machine! > @TheLovelySyria #Syria #Homs #Aleppo #Damascus #Lebanon http://is.gd/Plii1Z

and @syrianrebels responded:

@SyrianPresident it’s a company in Syria that send automated msgs, a dedicated owner they use server of @eghna check website #Syria branch

I went to investigate the Bahrain based Eghna Developement and Support*, which among other things provides “political campaign solutions.” I searched for any affiliation with Syria, and sure enough, one of the main suspected #Syria spam accounts was featured in their success stories page.

Eghna claims that “LovelySyria is using EGHNA Media Server to promote intersting photography about Syria using their twitter accounts. EGHNA Media Server helped Lovely Syria get attention to the beauty of Syria, and build a community of people who love the country and admire its beauty.” The only problem with that claim is that the lovelysyria.com website is only a Drupal login page void of content. There’s no way of creating a new user account, and therefore any claims of fostering a community are false.

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A Few Thoughts to Inaugurate my New Blog

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The Shorty Awards are unique awards for the Twitter community in several categories ranging between humor, entertainment, art, tech, politics, and many others. This year the politics category is on fire with Ali Abunimah becoming a finalist in the competition by popular vote. He basically swept the rug from under the feet of a racist Zionist spreading misinformation like a perfect propagandist tool while claiming to lead a “Jewish Internet Defense Force.” The problem is that David is blatantly racist, although he’s doing a poor job denying it; Most Jewish organizations/people are ignoring him or even outright shunning him. If you happen to have a twitter account and want to help Abunimah maintain his lead in the final round of votes you can go to the his shorty awards page and vote for him from there. Make sure you mention the reason you’re voting for him (e.g. because he supports equality and human rights.)

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I have been in the US for over seven months now. Sometimes a friend asks: “Do you miss Syria?” I always think about that and reply by saying that more than anything I miss the people (and sometimes the food). What makes a homeland is the people inhabiting it before the land itself. In a recent conversation with a Syrian friend whom I’ve never met, he was saying that he didn’t want to leave the country because he didn’t want to have to adapt to a new world and new people.  Distance is becoming more and more irrelevant everyday. People of different cultures are becoming less alienated with every click of a mouse in each forsaken corner of the world. The only real challenge that traveling entails is leaving behind those whom you care about the most; Language is acquirable. Cultural customs are a breeze to get used to. A job or an education are attainable. But how easy is it to brew an indifference towards those closest to you?

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To motivate myself into writing more than one post a month over here; I will start a series of posts about the different projects, websites, and organizations that I have been involved with to various degrees recently.

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I really wanted to include something about Syria in this post, so I looked at Syria-news for inspiration. I can’t say that the news have changed much: Corruption. Embezzlement. A vicious circle of useless talks with Western officials. Another honor killing. Another major traffic accident with dozens injured or dead. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Diala el-Hajj Arif, is still an imbecile; I hate her with the heat of a thousand suns.

Things haven’t changed much.

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سَأعيشُ رَغْـمَ الـدَّاءِ والأَعـداءِ * كالنَّسْـر فـوقَ القِمَّـةِ الشَّمَّـاءِ
أرْنُو إلى الشَّمْسِ المُضِيئةِ هازِئاً * بالسُّحْبِ والأَمطـارِ والأَنواءِ
لا أرْمقُ الظِّلَّ الكئيـبَ ولا أرَى * مَا فـي قَـرارِ الهُـوَّةِ السَّــوداءِ

نشيد الجبار (هكذا غنّى بروميثيوس)،   أبو القاسم الشابّي


Where I've Been, Gaza took me

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Gaza took me, I didn’t go there, But ever since January 1st I’ve been spending most of my evenings at the Syrian Red Crescent, working with the volunteers on the Donations Campaign for Gaza relief efforts.

I will not say anything about the massacre, I still can’t find the words. Instead, here’s how you can help and stay updated with the latest news from the Syrian Red Crescent:

Follow the live twitter updates for latest info on the campaign and how you can help.

Check the Flickr page for photos of the campaign and aid convoys that have been sent.

Join the Syrian Red Crescent’s Facebook group.

Subscribe to the youtube channel for videos from the Red Crescent.
The donations drive has been great thus far and 4 convoys of aid have already entered Gaza. we need your support to spread the word online. Your donations are making a difference.
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In other news, I’m now an Author on Global Voices Online. You can grab my first post here.