The GuardianThe Guardian

‘Aims’: The software for hire that can control 30,000 fake online profiles

By Manisha Ganguly

15 Feb 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

As part of the 'Story Killers' investigations, The Guardian explains how a software was used to create thousands of fake profiles to offer Disinformation-as-a-Service to anyone willing to pay.

At first glance, the Twitter user “Canaelan” looks ordinary enough. He has tweeted on everything from basketball to Taylor Swift, Tottenham Hotspur football club to the price of a KitKat. The profile shows a friendly-looking blond man with a stubbly beard and glasses who, it indicates, lives in Sheffield. The background: a winking owl.

Canaelan is, in fact, a non-human bot linked to a vast army of fake social media profiles controlled by a software designed to spread “propaganda”.

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