Across Twitter and Medium, at least 100 fake accounts are posting positive sentiments about the United Arab Emirates and its controversial position as host nation of COP28. Experts claim its part of a shoddily executed popularity drive from within.
Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of state oil giant ADNOC, is an ‘ally the climate movement needs,’ according to a bunch of climate-activist accounts popping up across Twitter and Medium.
This is a far cry from the public contempt expressed just months ago, in which the head of global policy at Oil Change International, Romain Loualalen, equated Al Jaber’s host position to putting a tobacco boss in charge of negotiations for an anti-smoking treaty.
How then has the UAE managed to garner such dramatic backing from eco outfits despite its plans for record breaking (and net-zero compromising) oil expansion? It hasn’t, obviously.
A recent Twitter thread from Qatari-based social media and disinformation expert, Dr Marc Owen Jones, offers a more realistic explanation. Refuting the authenticity of over 100 accounts and 30,000 tweets and blog posts, he paints a picture of a ‘large multilingual astroturfing effort’ headed up by the UAE to falsely promote and defend Al Jaber.
🧵1/There is a large, multilingual astroturfing effort around #Cop28 on Twitter right now involving at least 100 fake accounts. The accounts in question are promoting UAE foreign policy, bashing UAE's enemies, and burnishing the UAE's environmental record #deception #greenwashing pic.twitter.com/84uz5X8W81
— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) June 2, 2023
The evidence to support this theory is nigh-on impossible to deny.
The vast majority of accounts came to existence in batches on three specific dates, profile pictures almost exclusively show AI generated people or stock photos, patterns of set posting times and generic language appear across the board, and the vast majority have no other internet presence to speak of.