loader image
 

#StopMES – Disinfo Analysis

Context:

 

We were approached by colleagues from SOMA, the European Disinformation Observatory, with a request for assistance after they identified some suspicious activity in Italy relating to the #StopMES narrative.

 

Scope:

 

We used a number of specialist tools to access Twitter API records and ascertain what level of activity was occurring around the use of this hashtag and the accounts pushing the narrative.

 

Available data:

 

10 days to 11th December 2019

Data Summary:

 

We have identified 46,100 tweets in total of which 84% (38,600) were retweets which is highly indicative of inorganic behaviour and topic interference. Only 1,700 (4%) were replies.

The maximum number of tweets per minute during this period was 78, which is indicative of human-managed as opposed to automated behaviour.

According the gender data recorded by Twitter, 35% of the tweets came from females and 65% from males.

ANALYSIS

Tweets on the topic peaked on December 2 though there are signs of consistency with conversation timing across the ten day period, escalating in the afternoon before dropping off again overnight. This largely confirms the topic is being driven by humans due to the expected rest period between midnight and 0600.

Relative sentiment – a simple measure of emotion around the hashtag – shows it remains close to zero or in negative numbers, meaning it is an adverse emotional topic.

 

mes1

Considering the nature of the conversation, the geography is interesting.

As you would expect there is a high concentration of activity in Italy, however hotspots exist not only in Europe but Africa, the US, and Russia. This is a further indicator of inauthentic behaviour given the issue is highly localised.

98% of the tweets, however, were in Italian and 88% of the tweets originated in Italy.

mes2

Within Italy, the bulk of the conversation originated in Rome (44%) and Milan (26%) with a small distribution across other major cities.

mes3

A number of additional hashtags have been in use alongside #StopMES, which is known as co-concurrence. Aside from #mes which you would expect, #salvini is the second most used co-concurrent tag.

Others include #italexit, #nonfirmiamouncazzo, and even #m5s and a red circle emoji was used in 9.8% of the tweets.

mes4

Within the text of the tweets, the most used word is “conte” which also ties in with the third and fourth most used hashtags #contevergogna (conte shame) and #conte.

wordcloud (1)

Most of the content was posted from Android devices (48.1%) and via the web (22.1%) or iPhone (20.1%) however it is worth noting that 1.4% of the overall tweets came from native apps called LegaPerSalviniPremier and Noi con Salvini.

mes5
URLs:

 

A number of unique URLs were found in a number of the tweets, distributed across 8 websites.

Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nxzWgsWbXs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ols5fnvHjw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ij255wQqhc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxmFI05cNbM

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/salviniofficial/videos/2585655984815700/

https://www.facebook.com/salviniofficial/videos/1163433587191458/

https://www.facebook.com/giorgiameloni.paginaufficiale/videos/1143868145817393/

https://www.facebook.com/salviniofficial/videos/2645870838785039/

PSCP.tv:

https://www.pscp.tv/w/cLUSszE3OTc4NjV8MVlwS2tZTFZtZG9KaksMeLuSygY9jLnPw0Cq5QfdLvpXFPWLWFveiryB8nF0

https://www.pscp.tv/w/cL4tJzE3OTc4NjV8MU1ZeE5QZFFyd1BHd9D1AuBSsoQKNoZ21ieLvs5HqZTEpyN5TISiF3Ycg8Q1

https://www.pscp.tv/w/cMDPEDE3OTc4NjV8MXlvS016RU9OYVdHUZfgBj0Efdq7hX5GFwarEwzTXFQGPo2IBZRuN_T1p-CR

https://www.pscp.tv/w/cLUfFjg2ODIwNXwxWXBLa1lMVm1kb0pqmTihZo3FRXCwJzjerzoXv2BscoeZncC2UhpPDbWzVow=?t=11s

Lantidiplomatico.it:

https://www.lantidiplomatico.it/dettnews-ecco_come_il_mes_ha_aiutato_la_grecia_i_numeri_del_dramma_del_paese_oggi/29278_31948/

https://www.lantidiplomatico.it/dettnews-paolo_maddalena_accettare_il_mes_significa_essere_servi/82_31983/

https://www.lantidiplomatico.it/dettnews-secondo_il_collaboratore_pi_stretto_di_macron_litalia_ha_ragione_ad_obiettare_contro_il_mes_leurogruppo_dovrebbe_rinviare_laccordo/11_32039/

https://www.lantidiplomatico.it/dettnews-mes_aumentano_i_rischi_di_una_crisi_finanziaria_indotta_per_depredare_litalia/11_32037/

ilsussidiario.net:

https://www.ilsussidiario.net/news/dietro-le-quinte-gli-alleati-insospettabili-del-nuovo-monti-in-arrivo/1958464/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

https://www.ilsussidiario.net/news/fondo-salva-stati-ecco-come-funziona-il-mes-e-come-puo-metterci-in-crisi/1955047/

ilsole24ore.com:

https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/mes-maio-chiede-rinvio-l-italia-non-puo-firmare-buio-ACzasU2

https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/l-altola-cer-la-proposta-riforma-mes-non-da-benefici-all-italia-ACYtwE1

video.twimg.com:

https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1200197970454556672/pu/vid/1280x720/BV8fOSnMPZXJLmgn.mp4?tag=10

https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1201407629051998209/pu/vid/1024x576/c9ZW4QVBVvgZZ14E.mp4?tag=10

orrizonte48.blogspot.com:

http://orizzonte48.blogspot.com/2019/12/superata-la-legalita-costituzionalecome.html

http://orizzonte48.blogspot.com/2019/11/il-mes-2-e-i-suoi-fratelli-il.html?m=1

lavocedlepatriota.it:

https://www.lavocedelpatriota.it/basta-fregature-stopmes-fdi-manifesta-a-bruxelles/

https://www.lavocedelpatriota.it/stopmes-fdi-da-battaglia-alla-camera-e-in-piazza-per-fermare-sottoscrizione/

fanpage.it:

https://www.fanpage.it/economia/mes-centeno-gela-litalia-nessun-motivo-per-cambiarlo-salvini-attacca-da-conte-altra-bugia/

Tweets:

 

The most influential tweets of the #StopMES collection during the ten day period were:

https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1203400786077790214
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202346471896571904
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201769822436122624
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201781155072237570
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201998269716537344
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201998718637105152
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1204740199026171904
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1204756997314359297
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201529333149585410
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201531997354627072
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201537882424524801
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201538523016368130
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201540683762409473
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201541614289768449
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201542826787516417
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201543368209240064
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201543585738264576
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201544743941001222
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201575534582489088
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1203774485901561856
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201798558166536192
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204095219781816320
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201503765519425541
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201534325721903109
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201552075500466176
https://twitter.com/Libero_official/status/1204380428129439744
https://twitter.com/threadreaderapp/status/1201182494697172992
https://twitter.com/DSantanche/status/1204016354774388736
https://twitter.com/DSantanche/status/1204033371690717191
https://twitter.com/DSantanche/status/1201551354378031104
https://twitter.com/hermanntertsch/status/1204092149601636353
https://twitter.com/_MicroMega_/status/1202302062920380416

 

The most retweeted posts of the collection were:

https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201503765519425541
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201978207177715714
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201543368209240064
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201552075500466176
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204006073184571392
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201963538836791297
https://twitter.com/mattia_lz/status/1202208685268840448
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1202993337290121218
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204729677752877058
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1203655797214986241
https://twitter.com/AntonioGrzt/status/1201612869948841984
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201798558166536192
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204057360291041280
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202278809027911692
https://twitter.com/RadioSavana/status/1202656527921942528
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201770138577653760
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201535258065289217
https://twitter.com/FratellidItaIia/status/1201463370089672704
https://twitter.com/FratellidItaIia/status/1201496978204635138
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202907937200627719
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201534325721903109
https://twitter.com/AMorelliMilano/status/1203374654095802374
https://twitter.com/molumbe/status/1202257685195964418
https://twitter.com/FratellidItaIia/status/1204069265118310400
https://twitter.com/rubino7004/status/1201410946842804225
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201538523016368130
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1203041314750844929
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201544989949476865
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201529333149585410
https://twitter.com/benq_antonio/status/1201793121648041985
https://twitter.com/molumbe/status/1203703748645838854
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201542228197412865

 

The most quoted tweets of the collection were:

https://twitter.com/maryfagi/status/1203680718251024385
https://twitter.com/molumbe/status/1203703748645838854
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201978207177715714
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1201509522201858048
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1204070306513588224
https://twitter.com/FratellidItaIia/status/1201496978204635138
https://twitter.com/IoFausto/status/1201160326709960704
https://twitter.com/marco_gervasoni/status/1201023806044884992
https://twitter.com/VittorioBanti/status/1203411246705451008
https://twitter.com/gilardisil/status/1201565846159724545
https://twitter.com/littleboypc/status/1201139299485396992
https://twitter.com/GiuseppeConteIT/status/1201181044457775105
https://twitter.com/giuslit/status/1201178359763472389
https://twitter.com/miia_2018/status/1204143070956183552
https://twitter.com/danielescarfati/status/1201491613173866497
https://twitter.com/gilardisil/status/1202490258740436992
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204006073184571392
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1204446869860093952
https://twitter.com/RadioSavana/status/1200050305188188160
https://twitter.com/FratellidItaIia/status/1204060379531358208
https://twitter.com/moschettopres/status/1201515451681005568
https://twitter.com/PatriziaRametta/status/1201507663483420672
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1204093941106302976
https://twitter.com/SebCochard_11/status/1202926750432419840
https://twitter.com/RogerHalsted/status/1202219761712685057
https://twitter.com/BuompaneG/status/1203648348558897152
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201552075500466176
https://twitter.com/MauroSutto/status/1201514051014135808
https://twitter.com/VittorioBanti/status/1201805773027852290
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204729677752877058
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1201566093023875080
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1202264679772545024

 

The tweets most replied to across the collection were:

https://twitter.com/GiuseppeConteIT/status/1201181044457775105
https://twitter.com/GiuseppeConteIT/status/1201473215224274945
https://twitter.com/GiuseppeConteIT/status/1201201490062434308
https://twitter.com/GiuseppeConteIT/status/1204405437698674691
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201543368209240064
https://twitter.com/Mov5Stelle/status/1203310100460515328
https://twitter.com/CarloCalenda/status/1203735326851846149
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1203041314750844929
https://twitter.com/davidefaraone/status/1201779635689836545
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202346470281764864
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201503765519425541
https://twitter.com/Corriere/status/1202473871913472000
https://twitter.com/PastorellaGiu/status/1203718573589446657
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1204712586828271617
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201802016563040256
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1202174417968738304
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202243760664522752
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1202264679772545024
https://twitter.com/CottarelliCPI/status/1202271348359233536
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1202278809027911692
https://twitter.com/Rinaldi_euro/status/1201876432600928257
https://twitter.com/ManlioDS/status/1202608277315555328
https://twitter.com/borghi_claudio/status/1203635788514316289
https://twitter.com/AlbertoBagnai/status/1203669523481673728
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1203801066984394753
https://twitter.com/nzingaretti/status/1201519622505336832
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201769822436122624
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201781150475325440
https://twitter.com/matteosalvinimi/status/1201781155072237570
https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1201798558166536192
https://twitter.com/La7tv/status/1201814825061486592
https://twitter.com/graziano_delrio/status/1201563048642826241
Influence and Distributors:

 

The most influential figures discussing the #StopMES topic are Matteo Salvini and Georgie Meloni, supported by the official Fratelli d’Italia and Lega accounts.

The distribution of tweets on the topic, however, is notably across a broader range of accounts with varying follower counts:

mes6

The majority of the tweets are, in fact, coming from accounts with much smaller audiences:

mes7

Of these 32 accounts discussing the topic the most, we dip sampled the six which have each produced over 3,000 tweets on the #StopMES topic during the 10 day period.

All of them passed standard testing, indicating they are human-managed accounts not using automation.

Conclusion:

 

There are signs that #StopMES is an artificially inflated or inauthentic topic as set out above and it would appear to be the case that the inauthenticity is human-led which indicates this a deliberate and carefully crafted narrative campaign centred around Salvini and Meloni using the networks of Lega and Fratelli to enhance audience visibility.

There are some good indicators that actors not native to Italy are involved in this effort.

 

Ends.

Related Articles