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Scientology’s new ‘STAND’ front unleashes bot army on Twitter — and gets zapped

 
Our readers tend to be very observant, and we were reminded of that again recently when a Bunker regular reached out to us with some things he’d noticed about Scientology’s reaction to the new season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

“During the premiere episode, I kept noticing all of these spammy, fake-looking outbursts of identical tweets from accounts claiming to be members of the Scientology STAND League, all attacking Leah Remini, A&E, and everyone on the show. I did some research, and it looks like Scientology has a new bot army,” he says.

He first noticed it a couple of weeks before the new season began, when the STAND League, Scientology’s spiffy new front group that fights against religious discrimination, tweeted a message about that new anti-Leah Remini petition we wrote about earlier:

 

 
“In the span of only three minutes, dozens of accounts, mostly with uniform-looking STAND League usernames claiming to be real people, tweeted the exact same message with the same photo and the same weird “qoo.ly” link,” our tipster says.

 

 
“The accounts are also attacking people who appear on Leah’s show, including victims of child sexual abuse,” he says. “I was able to find 57 accounts that blast out these identical spam tweets day and night, including the official STAND League account. Most of these accounts, 45 of them, are robotically uniform-looking usernames claiming to be real people, like @EBStandLeague, @ECStandLeague, @EDStandLeague, etc. The other 12 look like old Scientology accounts that have been re-purposed for spam. The names and photos on these accounts may belong to actual Scientologists, but the accounts don’t appear to be run by any real humans with unique thoughts. I don’t see any idle musings or conversations with each other in between all the spam. They just churn out batch after batch of carefully crafted, hashtag-filled, spammy tweet barrages.”

Using a webtool that analyzes basic information about a Twitter account, our reader found that the new bot accounts had been created within a 25-hour period in June, with 37 of them created on an average of every 5 minutes.

 

[Some of the new bot accounts and re-purposed older ones posting 24 hours a day]

“Also, these newer accounts aren’t tweeting from the Twitter website or app, they’re instead using something called ‘Social Report’ that advertises, among other services, ‘Social Media Automations.’ And the weird ‘qoo.ly’ URL that they all keep linking to is registered to Social Report’s CEO, Vitaly Veksler. Those links track clicks and then forward users to whatever site the client wants, such as the STAND League site.”

Several days ago, we sent an email to Veksler, telling him that we were hoping to speak with him about the services he’s providing the Church of Scientology. We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

Our tipster took us through just one of the suspicious accounts, the one that’s registered to the STAND League’s director, OSA operative Edward Parkin, someone our readers are familiar with.

 

 
The Parkin account was created on June 21 just minutes before and after dozens of other STAND League accounts were also created. “This account tweets 24 hours a day using Social Report,” our reader says, “but as the analysis software points out, ‘humans tend to sleep.'”

 

 
So it turns out that Scientology’s “grass roots” STAND League effort is as fake as L. Ron Hubbard’s medals for military valor. We asked our tipster if this bot army was a violation of Twitter’s rules.

“The fact that so many accounts were created within just a few minutes of each other and that they’re all acting like clones is just comically blatant,” he says. “Twitter bans for ‘creating multiple accounts’ and ‘repeatedly posting duplicate updates.’ These accounts are like an exaggerated training video on what not to do.”

And apparently, Twitter noticed. Last night, as we were preparing this story, our tipster got back in touch with some surprising news.

All of the newer “STAND League” bots have been permanently suspended for spamming.

Well, maybe there’s some justice in the world after all.

 
UPDATE: And now they’re back! Just received this message from our tipster:

“40 of the uniform accounts have just been reinstated. I know because I have a dummy account that follows them all, and my ‘following’ count jumped from 12 to 52. I investigated further, and it’s true, they’re back and tweeting, with the 5 others still ‘permanently’ suspended.”

 
——————–

Bryan Seymour on another Australian Narconon kerfuffle

Our man Down Under, television journalist Bryan Seymour, sends us this dispatch on a strange new development there…

Fresh from their failed attempt to set up a new Narconon facility in New South Wales, Scientology has popped up supporting another group of crazies… the anti-vaxxer lobby.

This is a group of people who refuse to vaccinate their children, arguing it cause autism and is unnecessary. Further, they believe vaccinations are driven by a conspiracy among pharmaceutical companies to push ineffective, harmful dugs on the unsuspecting masses.

Sound familiar?

Narconon Melbourne chief Nerida James appeared at a recent screening of the documentary Vaxxed, telling the audience she is a doctor (naturopathic physician) and she can help them.

“We can support you. We have been supporting about 600 families thanks to Dr. John Piesse,’ James said. (See the video here.)

James runs the Get off Drugs Naturally (Narconon) program at East Warburton in Victoria. Two year ago, her centre was fined $3,000 and forced to remove claims from its website that it could completely cure drug addiction with detox and sauna sessions. Consumer Affairs Victoria found the claims were unsubstantiated and not scientifically tested.

At the time, the Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said, “This is a real warning to any other organisation out there who is offering services to vulnerable people, to drug addicted people, to people suffering health issues that they’d better be able to back up their claims that they’re making because to mislead, particularly vulnerable people, just isn’t on.”

Piesse was reportedly referred to authorities last year after applying for immunisation exemptions after telling patients the shots would damage their health.

 

[Nerida James]

Now we learn that Piesse will have his medical registration suspended over concerns for patient safety.

Perhaps the best way to tackle the wider problem of the anti-vaxxer movement is suggested in a recent TIME magazine article: Instead of telling parents to get their children vaccinated, show them what happens when they don’t.

This might suggest a way to alert people to the dangers of Scientology and Narconon – instead of telling them not to join, show them what happens when you do.

 
— Bryan Seymour

 
——————–

Tampa Bay Times: Is John Travolta moving to Clearwater?

Fascinating new piece by Tracey McManus, who shows that John Travolta’s sister, Ellen Bannon, purchased a $3 million waterfront home, and that Travolta has used his sister’s name before — his current home in Ocala is in her name.

McManus points out that Kirstie Alley lives next door to Travolta’s new pad, and that we broke the news that Tom Cruise is buying a new penthouse in the city.

Once again, more evidence that we believe points to Scientology leader David Miscavige putting less emphasis on locations like Los Angeles and turning Clearwater into a kind of Scientology fortress, complete with its glittering celebrities.

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,853 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,836 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,610 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,956 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,450 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,490 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,202 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 728 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,817 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,957 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,277 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,252 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 608 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,910 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,017 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,419 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,292 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 873 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,378 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,622 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,731 days.

 
——————–

3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 25, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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