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:

name screen follwrs frens
TC_Champions TC Champions 782 1652
KETCA254 Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance 2473 1639
TrustChromatic Chromatic 591 140
CTFKGlobal Tobacco-Free Kids Global 516 179
DrJavaidKhan1 Dr Javaid Khan 3367 3473
ParentsvsVape ParentsAgainstVaping 2616 1746
unfairtobacco Unfairtobacco 1677 908
Wdekanter Wanda de Kanter 21526 23160
TakeAPartNow TakeAPart 8089 203

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:

name screen follwrs frens
WFZm3wHt5zPpJ9C ณัฐศาสตร์ ผอมมฉิม 0 1058
zx_xsa XsaBerZx 0 1057
x4MnJDWpghAHGpH โอ 1 1110
pennapa35519839 pennapa 2 1076
vjQLh6Z4WCJwXBL ศรนรทร์ จันนุบิน 1 1029
B4R19aCnobmEwu9 ป๋า 11 1056
Karasaban__Fat Fatma 1 1371
Pongkron1 Pongkron 2 1179
Aum_4599 Aum 1234 0 1064
Mana49542891 Mana 3 1115
gt34677 Gt34677 0 1098
gxebVcXuluIkTTk คำเด็กผี 0 1117
MaChar52899447 Ma Char 0 1022
somsong96324703 somsong 0 1120
Numim13 Numim 0 1076
numodtanoiwoo Numodtanoiwoo 2 1048
Becausw1 Becausw 0 1137
CPoung Chetsadaphong_poung 0 1118
TYYong8 TYYong 0 1062
phoomin62468558 phoomin 1 1151
Fluke97858682 Fluke 0 1045
9tAk61kx0ZegV3o บัณฑิตา เทียมทิพาบุญกร 1 1082
vZpG61auJU27Cjb สุพรรษา พัทธสีมา 0 1130
P4dcY5rveCLVidv มะปราง 0 1087
u8SCXGrsMWZbtDu ดีไม่พอหรือเทอไม่พอดี 0 1069
t4r00321937 t4r 1 1096
irEk3lnl37W5xPE ภัคธิรา คงสัข์ง 1 1028

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.

name screen follwrs frens
turan779670 NilgunTuran779670 0 95
abdurehim63740 ZuhalAbdurehim63740 0 217
Comfort44062113 Comfort 0 100
kaplan58384 GulsenKaplan58384 1 238
EbruArslanteki1 EbruArslantekin3199436 0 205
genc5924234 AysegulGenc5924234 0 204
bektas58296 HandanBektas58296 0 152
birturk375478 ZehraBirturk375478 1 165
Jack79911062 Jack 1 488
D46yTaiRBKmzQps นครินทร์ ปู่ด้วง 2 283
kra66895727 kra 0 509
F9Puz7cJ7BsgFLR เอ็มพายุ 0 300
OChaiyawong Oil Chaiyawong 0 235
AqrDseUQluxMrQR สุวรรณี 0 299
RqWBJOM3abPnqGO ตู่สมเย็ด 0 295
kaljar55555 ไก่ 0 288
Waren03682103 Waren 0 299
Ganokwan1913 Ganokwan Chadam 3 620
tong095718 สศักดิ์ ดูเรืองรัมย์ 2 574
BNry9mVTHK8mgVA นนทกร. นุชยิ้มย่อง 1 435
flangthng Flangthng​ 0 373
7lc45Y1ZaumlrVp สายันต์ ถอนนอก 5 276
KateKa87801079 Kate Ka 7 601
UMsx0s2A0sXuhAM สุดาวัลย์ บุรพัฒน์ 0 209
Sprite_210 ไปร์ท หลอนน🍁 7 605
K87175922 K 4 254
Q25201126 Q 8 258
F40732438 F 4 254
V62763614 V 4 225
H07907639 H 5 256
Oscar97896329 Oscar 2 128
Usama863378835 Usama8 2 174
Usama651349541 Usama6 1 187
Usama431921478 Usama4 1 194
Usama325869377 Usama3 1 196
Usama236635342 Usama2 1 191
Usama104703949 Usama1 1 153
TalhaRa36311354 Talha Razzaq 8 220

./scripts/twitter-bought-followers.php samples/twitter/pactpak-followers.jsonl

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.

-t-highly 🟥🟥🟥
nicotine-addiction 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥
popcorn-news 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥
brain-damage 🟥🟥🟥
tobacco-industry 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥🟥
-t-metals 🟥🟥🟥
-t-chemophobia 🟥🟥🟥
-t-psych 🟥🟥
ergo-harmful 🟥
prohibition-works 🟥
antivax-rhetoric 🟥
vaping-epidemic 🟥🟥🟥🟥
-t-gateway 🟥
-t-2ndhand 🟥
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