Turns out that was largely projection. CTFK frontgroups are using bought accounts to substitute for credence and actual backing.
Remember when we were all bots?
This might be surprising to some, but CTFK is still simulating anti-tobacco lobbying outside of the US. One of their more recent brands is PACTPak, which originally demanded higher tobacco taxes for Pakistan. But it didn't take long for the usual pivot to slandering quitting options. Nicotine being more harmful to brains than tobacco control funding became a focal topic in their auxiliary and main accounts recently. It's almost like raising the homeopathic tobacco taxes (20ct/pack) didn't please one of their donors.
Then the anotomy of their Twitter followers piqued my interest. Given the slandering of harm reduction advocates as bots, sometimes combined with the for-hire projection. Because a large part of the PACTpak subscribers do, in fact, not look super real.
There's a few familiar names. Wanda certainly doesn't honor Asimov's first law. But commonly the stats for long-established accounts look entirely inconspicuous:
|KETCA254||Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance||2473||1639|
|CTFKGlobal||Tobacco-Free Kids Global||516||179|
|DrJavaidKhan1||Dr Javaid Khan||3367||3473|
|Wdekanter||Wanda de Kanter||21526||23160|
Whereas the larger part of recent followers, don't. The discrepancy between following and followers is quite pronounced. While such proportions are both plausible and existing for real users, it's less likely that you'd follow 1000 accounts, but only a dozen you. And there's definitely something off with the prevalence here:
There are a thousand more accounts where the relation isn't quite as disparate. Subscriber-only engagement would even be quite reasonable for some. But you'll notice that's not the only property of such accounts.
Some numerology in accounts is common, if not expected. However most of these look like poorly auto-generated names. And I checked Wikipedia twice on this, there aren't too many Thai-speaking folks in Pakistan to begin with.
There are definitely real accounts among PACTpaks disciples. But depending on how you measure for inconsistencies (among n=8354), there's quite a bit of not-so-much:
symptom num percentage follwr discrepancy (20<2000) 6699 80.2% follower ratio (<5%) 7440 89.1% uneven ratio (<20%) 7865 94.0% synth. account names 2248 26.9% thailand accounts 2597 31.1%
A quick sampling of striking accounts on Bot·o·meter reveals either inactive users, or quite reddish scores. But that's not very relevant. I wouldn't think they do any upvoting shenanigans. Those are quite plainly synthetic accounts, which bolster the follower count for 3 cent per pop. (Doesn't imply CTFK ordered those themselves).
What's remarkable is the unsophisticated approach there. As this raises questions as to how committed CTFK is with their international outlets. Sure, simulating population backing is nice; and probably cheaper than PR studies or propaganda campaigns. But makes it look even more unreal than PAVe. One might wonder if it's just real-people-support envy.
Right now it's largely virtual, and looks mostly motivated by funding. Essentially
just rehashed talking points and diluting actual smoking reduction efforts -
judging from their pilgrimish twitter posts.
I'd be more concerned if they started exporting their SEO spam templates or JSON-LD FUDPages to progressing countries. TICs have the ethics of Peak Tobacco, and will stop at nothing to sustain smoking-related disease. And it's not clear if PACTPak is just an attention diversion brand, or prepares APAC-style undermination of population health.
quick phrase scan
So there isn't yet a clear pattern of e-cig hogwash. This quick grep pertains the whole corpus of their tweets, which was mostly about combustibles.
|replies||sprcpk, TobaccoFreeKids, MalikImranA73, TrustChromatic, Khalilarifdogar, SPARCPK, TAYYABRAZA13, ziauddinislam, shariqmktweets, ciigov, VaTobacco, FBRSpokesperson, facebook, instagram, Twitter, OfficialMqm, DFSMQM, spdckarachi, ImranKhanPTI, shaukat_tarin, fslsltn, PTIofficial, mehreenzahra, UmarCheema1, sherryrehman, Razarumi, IffatHasanRizvi, qureshik74, Benazir_Shah, BenazirMirSamad, iqrarulhassan, PIDEpk, zartajgulwazir, SalmanFarooque, PublicNews_Com, SalmanMrza, aftabiqbal7, fsherjan, Dr_YasminRashid, MashwaniAzhar, UdarOfficial, MaleehaHashmey, Dr_FirdousPTI, MoIB_Official, PTIOfficialLHR, panah84, PACTPak, Abidsuleri, anwaar_kakar, nhsrcofficial, hdfpk, Antitobacco_pak|