They were clearly fake Twitter accounts. It’s the string of meaningless numbers in that name that gives it away, sparky, you want to tell the trolls who create them. Created the same month, with no followers and an incongruous profile picture, I reported them to Twitter, then blocked them.
The only time I am followed by numerous, patently fake accounts on Twitter is whenever I write about ANC politicians, as I did in October about Minerals & energy minister Gwede Mantashe’s bizarre behaviour when climate envoys came to the country offering vast sums of money to help save the planet. Where was the “energy minister”? He claimed he had “family commitments” when clearly all the family members of a politician know they will be dropped at the slightest excuse, least of all rich nations offering vast sums of money.
I was also followed earlier this year after the July riots and several columns about #Presidunce Jacob Zuma and his current enabler-in-chief Dali Mpofu.
Some of these bots accounts try ham-fisted attempts at criticising you but it’s pointless trying to engage with them. My social media ground rule is: don’t feed the trolls.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good debate, but really only a fact-based one. It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with, say, a 60-something-year-old man who is an ardent anti-vaxxer whose proof point is a patently misinformed conspiracy theory about pregnant women who take the Covid vaccine. Not even “are you pregnant?” is a valid response, according to this man, nor is “this virus can kill you, and you might pass it on and kill someone else”.
I write critical things in this column about Apple, Facebook, Google and never get followed by bots. Yet, every time I write about an ANC politician, bots pop up in my timeline like pothole repairers the month before a local election.
It’s just so blatantly obvious.
What it demonstrates is that someone with some kind of affiliation to the ANC – or #PresidunceZuma or Mantashe – cares enough to create obviously false accounts on Twitter whenever I write critically about the ruling party or its miscreant leaders.
Clearly, whoever is doing this must be doing it for free – given that the ANC can’t even pay its own full-time staff.
Given how often such bots appear in my Twitter timeline – it may be happening on other social media platforms, but I don’t check any of the others, so I wouldn’t know – it’s quite obvious that somebody is also upset whenever I write about moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources.
This brings us to the latest bizarre, alternative reality move by the department of energy & mineral resources to allow Shell to blast 220 decibels into the coastal waters in the middle of the whaling season. Imagine having Julius Malema and the EFF bigwigs Airbnb-ing the house next to yours in Cape Town before a major event at Parliament. For five months, every 10 seconds.
What is this marine life deafening survey for? To find oil and gas – just as the world is moving away from fossil fuels. Because climate change.
Who do Mantashe and his department think they are fooling?
- This article first appeared in the Financial Mail.