how I became friends with a Twitter troll called Angus Gallagher
September 1, 2019 8:51 PM   Subscribe

An epic tale in 58 tweets of a three month friendship (of sorts) with a (Russian? Saudi Arabian?) troll account via direct messaging, told by Middle East studies scholar Marc Owen Jones:
Despite exclusively tweeting about Qatar, Saudi & Iran, & having very strong opinions, he would always say via DMs that he 'didn't know much about that stuff'.... It wasn't all business though, sometimes he'd send me Ariana Grande gifs or talk about K Pop..."
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posted by spamandkimchi (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
This is an extremely important Twitter thread. It shows clearly what the strategies are of the bad faith actors paid by foreign governments to influence public opinion in the US. Pretend to be someone Just Like You, even using false credentials if they have to, demonstrate that they even like the things you like, and then attempt to show how the ridiculous views they espouse are things you yourself could have.
posted by JHarris at 12:19 AM on September 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

It's a remarkable thread, but I don't want to read it again because it creeped me out a lot, as someone who lives far too much on Twitter.
posted by ambrosen at 1:01 AM on September 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

idk why he felt he had to open with a joke trivializing and othering trans people but. uh. yeah. why.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:32 AM on September 2, 2019 [9 favorites]

This was a fascinating and disturbing thread about how there are spies with state level cooperation using stolen passports to try to influence people and spread disinformation. I mean, I know intellectually this stuff exists, but to see it in action on Twitter used against pretty ordinary people is BEYOND TERRIFYING. To me, at any rate.

I looked at Marc's replies and there were some fascinating gems of information there.

For example, Angus (or the alleged Angus) used to DM with another woman, and shilled his book. Which you can find here.

It's called LAYLA OF THE APOCALYPSE and from the overly long blurb, it seems like a feverish mash-up of Assassin's Creed, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and really overwritten period erotica. There are no sales or reviews. If you're brave, you can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, but I'm not brave. TBH I don't want that thing on my Kindle.

It's so WEIRD. So is Angus a spy from Estonia using the stolen passport info from an actual British citizen? But why is this person also written lurid historical fiction? I don't know, my brain is broken.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:50 AM on September 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

I meant to say, "why HAS this person also written lurid historical fiction"-- ugh.

Anyway, after I brought up this point on Twitter, the former tech editor from the Guardian suggested to me that the book in question was actually an undercover code book, like in Three Days of the Condor.

So yeah.

The story just gets progressively more Byzantine...
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 5:39 AM on September 2, 2019

Between these sorts of bot/bad actors and the unhinged boomer crowd, Twitter became a deeply unpleasant place to be. Sure, you can follow all sorts of nice people, but you're never more than two or three clicks away from MAGAnoise. And this is simply because Twitter refused to charge a low level subscription or entry fee, and wanted to be like the Facebook model, and then screwed itself by using user count as it's dollar value.

So many people would have subscribed to 2012 Twitter. Now, people have to be paid to use it.
posted by The River Ivel at 5:42 AM on September 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

@The River Ivel, I know what you mean. I was enjoying some wotsits the other night and decided to search "wotsits" in twitter (they don't have a dedicated twitter account I'm disappointed to say) and one of the first results was a generic young conservative #BackBoris Brexit account replete with all the flags you'd expect and zero personality. I just wanted cheesy snack content and they find a way to ruin that too.
posted by Chaffinch at 5:08 AM on September 3, 2019

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