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Widespread Illegal Voter Coercion in GOP Campaigns Found in Social Web Audit by ImpermiumNew Impermium Index Research and Inforgraphic Details How Social Networks and Major Media Sites Are Getting Hammered by Political-Themed Social Spam; Various Illegal and Legit Parties Are Behind the Efforts (March 29, 2012)
PALO ALTO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 03/29/12 -- Voters beware: the latest edition of the Impermium Index reveals widespread social spam campaigns attempting to sway voters in the GOP Republican race.
Below are brief narratives to supplement the inforgraphic linked to this press release and available on the Impermium blog which is available for reuse under Creative Commons attribution license.
What Did Impermium Discover?
- Broad Exposure: Impermium estimates that 85% of readers on major news networks experienced political spam via social user comments during the GOP primaries.
- Spambots: Some of the same creeps who spam black market watches and Viagra are promoting GOP candidates. Impermium compared IP addresses and other digital parameters, and found numerous matches between illegal commercial operators and parties distributing political social spam during the GOP primaries.
- Fake Accounts: Impermium estimates that 60% of political spam is posted via fake social profiles with no normal user activity. As an example, one group of zombie sleeper cells were activated for three days; each posted 500 negative comments about Mitt Romney -- then vanished.
- Impersonations: Numerous user handles that mimic celebrities or public figures in social forums posted political spam, intentionally misleading citizens.
- Incendiary Blog Comments: Fake stories about candidates, issues, and positions have been observed up to 200 times per hour across thousands of blogs.
- Super Tuesday's Nuclear Spam Attack: Political social spam attacks spiked around the Super Tuesday events. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney was the biggest target, with anti-Romney content at a ratio of 10:2:1:1 compared to Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul respectively.
Is political social spam legal?
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is the most relevant legislation that would govern the use of political social spam. Although it is legal for campaigns to send unsolicited email and make 'robo calls' in support of candidates and ballot-box issues, it is illegal to use any means to coerce or deceive voters with misinformation. Due to the fact that voting citizens are more likely to trust social media than email or TV (Forrester Research, 2011), and because spam and abuse tactics can come in so many different forms, social web channels are ripe for political manipulation.
"Our concern is not that political organizations are tapping the power of social networks to get out the vote," says Mark Risher, anti-spam expert and CEO of Impermium. "The challenge is that social media, if leveraged by unethical groups, could be highly effective in coercing voters, and when combined with the criminal spam techniques we observed, could have a devastating impact."
As we move towards the Fall 2012 General Elections, Impermium researchers predict that politically driven social spam attacks will continue to rise, and affect Democrat, Republican and non-partisan campaigns. More information on the Impermium Index and political spam in the social web can be found at http://blog.impermium.com.
About Impermium Corporation
Impermium Corporation's patent-pending technology is helping companies of all sizes and social networks lower the risk and cost of social web spam and abuse. To find out more about our anti-spam service for the social web, visit http://www.impermium.com or contact us. Follow us on Twitter @impermium or the Allied Front blog.
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