Posted by Richard Willett - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 20 June 2024

Why Did the BBC and ITV Decide to Smear Reform With a Baseless Story About Election Manipulation on Social Media on the Same Day?

Call me old-fashioned, but if I follow a hunch down a rabbit hole and it leads to a dead end, I let it go. However, this, it turns out, is not how journalism is done at Britain’s major TV news organisations. Last week, both the BBC and ITV reported on the same non-story: that no evidence was found of Reform U.K. using ‘bots’ to influence its social media reach ahead of the July 4th General Election. Nonetheless, the stories these outlets published left readers with the clear impression that something nefarious had been exposed. After all, academics were suspicious of the challenger party’s social media reach and the polling bounce it had had since Nigel Farage returned as leader.

“Are fake accounts swaying voters towards Reform U.K.?”, asked BBC ‘disinformation correspondent’ Marianna Spring. Apparently without any sense of irony, Spring built her own bot farm – 24 mobile telephones, each of which is loaded with social media accounts of a fictional profile, which Spring uses to “like, follow and watch relevant content”. Spring used these accounts to contact other social media accounts which had committed the egregious sin of sharing Reform U.K. videos or imploring others to “Vote Reform!” to establish their authenticity as social media users, their motivations and their relationship with the party. A few reply. Most ignore her.

Spring finds little evidence from their replies for anything more than suspicion – “hallmarks of inauthentic accounts” – and Reform denies that its campaign includes such an initiative. Spiring admits that despite identifying 50 suspicious accounts, “they could still have been genuine”. Nonetheless, Spring’s fig leaf is that this is “one more piece of evidence” that “social media users and anonymous accounts have the ability to shape the online conversation just as effectively as the content coming from the political parties themselves”.

So why the focus on Reform?

Just the day after Spring’s report, Digital Video Producer at ITV News George Hancorn claimed to exposethe “suspicious accounts ‘with Nigerian following’ being used to push pro-Reform U.K. content”. His own fake social media account bot farm, developed with “cybersecurity experts at Cardiff University” had “noticed a collection of accounts with ‘unusual behaviour’ on TikTok”. What was this behaviour? Apparently, the experts’ super-senses were triggered by “how many comments included the phrases ‘Vote Reform’ or ‘Reform U.K.’ being posted on repeat”.

ITV and the Cardiff’s ‘experts’ analysed the comments on 14 videos they posted to their own fake social media accounts. Of these 14 videos, two featured Reform spokespeople. But four per cent of 7,766 comments posted in reply to all 14 videos were comments such as “Vote Reform” or “Reform U.K.”, which “far outstripped other comments openly supporting other parties”. If that strikes you as what American cop shows would call “probable cause” for investigating election interference, notice that four per cent of 7,766 is just 310, and ITV offered no analysis of the remaining 7,456 comments. From the authors of these 310 comments, ITV’s experts determined that “more than half” of the 14 accounts they analysed (note the 14 accounts were not the source of the 14 videos and the recurrence of the number 14 is apparently coincidence) “could potentially be ‘bots’”. The 14 accounts were contacted, and three replied, but only to decline further conversations. “The responses from some of these accounts show they are being run by Reform supporters, while others are still unproven and could well be inauthentic,” conclude Hancorn and his ‘experts’.

Read More: Why Did the BBC and ITV Decide to Smear Reform With a Baseless Story About Election Manipulation on Social Media on the Same Day?

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