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Aug 12, 2013

Lib spike sparks dirty social media war accusation

The Liberal Party has been spending up big on promoted tweets and Facebook advertising -- both totally above-board marketing tactics. But the party is now facing accusations of buying tens of thousands of bogus Facebook "likes" and "fans", writes Matthew Knott.


The Liberal Party has denied artificially inflating its social media support after an eye-watering spike in “likes” for the party and leader Tony Abbott’s Facebook pages.

Abbott has now zoomed past social media devotee Kevin Rudd in Facebook popularity with over 130,000 likes. This is up from around 78,000 a week ago and well above Rudd’s 101,058. Abbott’s Facebook statistics page shows the Opposition Leader received almost 20,000 extra Facebook likes last Friday alone.

Abbott’s page received over 60,000 new likes in the week of August 3-9 — up from only 845 the week before the election was called.

The Liberal Party’s official Facebook page has also had a spike in activity and now has over 127,000 likes — more than any other party. Activity on the Labor and Greens pages has been far steadier over the same period.

The Liberal Party announced yesterday that it would investigate the purchase of fake Twitter followers for Tony Abbott, whose account soared from 157,000 to 198,000 on Saturday night.

“It’s really clear what they’re doing: they’re pouring heaps of money into promoting their page,” said Australian Services Union NSW secretary Sally McManus, who is co-ordinating the Australian Council of Trade Union’s social media campaign for the election. “It creates a false impression that they’re much more popular than they are.”

McManus estimates the Liberal Party has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on sponsored Facebook posts.

A Liberal Party spokesman told Crikey today the Facebook spike was “legitimate” and its followers “are absolutely connected back to real people”.

Social media consultant Hugh Stephens says there could be several explanations for a spike in Facebook support. These include increased interest following the announcement of an election date; big spending on sponsored posts and advertisements; or the purchase of fake Facebook likes.

Blogger Llewellyn Stevens first addressed the spike in support for Abbott and the Liberal Party in a post on the weekend.


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18 thoughts on “Lib spike sparks dirty social media war accusation


    There are other fishy things happening as well. Earlier there was a huge spike in people making the precisely same comment, not retweet but *same* comment all within a short period of time about the australian greens, from accounts not even remotely related to australia, finally someones been registering fake “muslim” accounts en-masse to troll the ALP page about how allah hates muslims, using implausible muslim names that sorta sound arabic and photos pulled from muslim dating sites.

    There are *weird* shenanigans afoot right now.

  2. klewso

    “The Elusive Brethren” again?

  3. K.D. Afford

    Don’t believe any thing you read,nor anything you hear because it is fabricated in the first instance, and subject to brain washing in the latter.

  4. timothy ghost

    oh the lnp facebook page has lots of “likes”?

    well heck i’d better “like” them too i don’t want to feel left out.

  5. Flickknifetipsy

    There has been a sponsored post apoearing on my Facebook page inviting me to likeTony Abbott’s page over this past week. I have no intention of doing so and I looked in vain for an option to comment or remove the post! After that ad blitz the “Likes” are not that impressive in number! I don’t think Mr Abbott’s campaign has received value for money!
    PS: Seriously does any one know how I can remove this annoying sponsored post from my Facebook page?

  6. mikehilliard

    As Abbott keeps saying, it’s all about who you can trust.

  7. Hamis Hill

    Fakes for a fake?
    That’d be unusual then?
    But on internet related matters, $5,000 reasons to say “No to the Node”?
    Tony would have to send fifteen days on the road to garner that much on fake? travelling expenses.
    How will the Libs rort the NBN?

  8. Observation

    A clumsy attempt to falsely market yourself in an area you know nothing about. This will be interesting.

  9. Serano Bergerac

    On the other hand, and dare I say it, it could be a cunning ploy by Labor.


    @timothy ghost Its not as simple as that. The likes are happening at almost exactly 18 likes per minute, consistently regardless of time of day or whats happening in the news. 6pm in arvo? 18 per minute. 4am in the morning? 18 per minute, with under 10% deviation from that rate. Its a strikingly linear rate of of likes. Note the LNP has already admitted that someone is gameing the twitter likes (But they claim they didnt order it), but they havent admitted that the precise rate of facebook likeing defies statistical probability and is also being gamed as well. The rate I should add puts Tony more popular than Beiber, Psy, Facebook’s own page, and so on, making mr Abbot almost the most popular person on earth with an absurdley linear delta. Simply put, this is being gamed. On the data available, I’d argue that the question isn’t “if” but “who”.


    I should also note, that *ALL* “pay for like” schemes by necessity involve stolen social network identities, usually by way of botnet virus infections. Facebook requires mobile phone activation for a new account, making it implausible that a company is going to simply register a few million accounts using a few million handsets. The implication here is dire. *IF* someone from the liberal party has authorized the use of a “pay per like” service, then *VERY* serious questions need to be asked, possibly by law enforcement. Unfortunately none of this can be proved at this stage so I’ll refrain from accusing the party of doing this, since its also entirely plausible that a disreputable supporter is doing it instead. But its not a trivial matter, whatever the case is.


    @Flickknifetipsy , Adblocker plus is a sanity saver. Trust me, its the good stuff. Make sure you turn it off for crikey though!

  13. AR

    Trolls, astroturfers, agoraphobics, shut-ins, pyschotics, obsessives and then we get to the real nutters. Thank god I’m an atheist and don’t own a mobile.

  14. Flickknifetipsy

    Thank you DMX Prime – I will spread the word about Adblocker.

  15. the duke

    ughhh this has been happening for a while and is very annoying. Sports stars buy twitter followers all the time to boost their profile, particularly in the states. Kevin Rudd does it too as he has appeared on my twitter feed and I can’t stand the weasel.

  16. Michael Pols

    Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to the Facebook administrator on the subject:

    “there was not a response strong enough that I could give you administrators of Facebook to never let his gormless, irritating, witless and altogether horrid presence out of my personal Facebook space. Seriously advertising on TV or MSN is one thing, but shoving this S**t into my personal Facebook space where all I want to do is catch up with my friends is offensive to me and starting to border on harassment!!”

    There really is not much more that one can say, apart from the fact that in spite of all the privacy settings in the world, Facebook is happy to cheapen their product for $$$.

  17. Alex

    I have proof of the fake accounts. Or Astroturfing? I think its called?. One minute someone from the Liberal party responded to me as one person. The next it was someone else with the same comment. I took screen shots because when the first person replied.. It wasnt the person I directed the comment to.. lol Then they logged in as the correct person and correct it. Let me know where I can post the images! haha.

  18. Alex

    Which Authorities can I report this to?


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