Thursday, 14 November 2019

Who are the people behind all these annoying fake-grassroots Tory spam ads?



During the 2017 General Election campaign several small independent left-wing sites (Evolve Politics, The Canary, Another Angry Voice ...) went absolutely mega-viral on Facebook, generating hundreds of thousands of interactions, and millions of views, without paying out a single penny on sponsored Facebook adverts.

Incredibly I produced the number one, number two, and number seven most viral articles of the entire general election campaign, without paying Facebook anything. The articles went mega-viral purely because so many people liked, shared, and commented on them.

Facebook will not allow this to happen again.

Last year they dramatically clamped down on small independent media sites, using their algorithms to prevent any repeat of this kind of mega-viral independent media phenomenon.

So instead of seeing organic viral content in your Facebook feed this election, you're increasingly likely to see sponsored anti-Labour attack adverts from fake-grassroot organisations that have spent thousands of pounds to inject their propaganda ads into the Facebook feeds of their target audiences.

In this article I'm going to look at four of the worst offenders so far, and reveal the people behind them.



Working4UK



This fake-grassroots attack page was created on October 29th 2019.

The person behind it is Tory Party councillor Suraj Sharma who initially tried to pass it off as a non-political page to bypass Facebook's rules on political advertising. He was soon caught and made to register with the Facebook Ad Library, where you can see the propaganda he's been sending out, how much he's been spending, and who he's targeting with this Tory propaganda dressed up as grassroots activism.


Clearly none of this spending is being registered as Conservative Party election spending, and it's entirely unclear whether Sharma is using his own money to bankroll this propaganda campaign, or laundering it from elsewhere.


Right to Rent, Right to Buy, Right to Own



This page is masquerading as some kind of property rights advocacy group, but if you check out the sponsored ads they're pumping into people's Facebook feeds, it's clearly just a succession of hyperbolic anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn propaganda ads.

The page was created on September 30th 2019, less than a month before the general election was called, and has already managed to pick up 2,000 followers (presumably a bunch of selfish buy-to-let slumlords).

Clicking through to the "RtR,RtB,RtO" website provides absolutely no detail on who is behind this propaganda operation, with their "About Us" section telling you absolutely nothing about who they are, other than the fact they hate Jeremy Corbyn, a lot.

The Facebook Ad Library entry for this propaganda outfit names someone called "Jennifer Powers" from Surrey as the person who paid for all of these anti-Corbyn ads, and guess what ... she turns out to be another Tory party activist.



Parents' choice



This page promotes the private school sector, and defends the ability of elitist private schools to hide behind charitable status in order to avoid paying tax, despite many of them raking in tens of thousands per pupil, per year.

The page was set up on October 11th 2019, and has been pumping literally thousands of pounds worth of Tory propaganda into people's Facebook feeds.

The man behind this fake-grassroots operation is yet another Tory, this time the former Tory MP Richard Patrick Tracey.


Campaign Against Corbynism


This anti-Labour propaganda outfit is the most vitriolic of the lot, and guess what ... check out their Facebook Ad Library entry, and the guy paying for all of this vitriol is a Tory party activist and Conservative Home columnist called James Bickerton.

This page stands out from the others because it was created in March 2019, rather than immediately before the general election campaign, but it's pursuing the exact same strategy of blasting huge amounts of cash on pumping fake-grassroots Tory propaganda into people's Facebook feeds.

Where does all the money come from?

Back in 2017 left-wing pages like mine didn't need to pay Facebook to spread our content news feeds. We relied solely on the fact that we were providing an alternative narrative to the lamentable mainstream media narrative that Theresa May and the Tories were going to romp to victory, with the only possible debate being the eventual size of their thumping parliamentary majority.

This time around the Tories are attempting to buy the Facebook election with numerous fake-grassroots pages blasting through thousands of pounds each to inject their crudely disguised Tory propaganda into people's Facebook feeds.

It doesn't take a lot of investigative work to figure out who is behind these disingenuous propaganda operations, but it's impossible to trace where the money to pay for these propaganda ads is actually coming from.

Are we seriously expected to believe that these pages, most of which popped up out of nowhere at the exact same time, using the exact same tactics, similar graphic design styles, all operated by Tory party insiders, are not part of some deliberate coordinated Tory party effort to flood Facebook with a tsunami of fake-grassroots Tory propaganda?

Do they really expect people to be this gullible?


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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40 comments:

Unknown said...

Take a look into "People's Vote UK" and test their 'Tactical Voting' App / Page. It produces a significantly weird result for Wealden constituency by recommending a 3rd place LibDem candidate over a resurgent 2nd place Labour candidate in a deep Con majority.
GE 2015 & 2017 results as follows;
GE'15 - CON 33K / UKIP 10K / LAB 6K / LIB 5K / GRN 4K
GE'17 - CON 37K / LAB 13K / LIB 6K / GRN 2K / UKIP 2K
(numbers rounded)

Marginalbear said...

Jennifer Powers FB profile shows tha she likes Power for the Many not the Few. I think the Tories are misattributing and stealing profiles again. Nothing but personal photos on the ladies page.

Anonymous said...

Am I right in thinking that you only need to prove that they are 'coordinating' with each other/main Tory campaign in order to report to the Electoral Commission?

It does rather remind me of the 2014 Scottish Indy Referendum where the Better Together Campaign was coordinating with several others, and rather obviously too. to the extent that Tories were donating money to Labour (who campaigned for BT) and an offshoot of BNP (called the Brittanic Party) was seen actively out campaigning with Labour after receiving a mystery £10,000 donation in a rather obvious attempt to circumvent campaign spending limits. NB the Brittanic Party had no more than 25 members! Yet these racists were allowed into the Labour ranks for a campaign against Indy?

I fear that this kind of dodgy campaigning won't be limited to the Tories this time and, like the battle bus scam, as all sides are doing it, they won't report it - it'll go on and on until Channel 4 do something about it...

Emma said...

Check out Nye Bevan News too please, Another Angry Voice. The dynamics of the page have changed recently.

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/thequeenshat/status/1195000017184051200 - As a Yorkshireman, this thread about dodgy online political advertising in a marginal Yorkshire seat might interest you and you might even want to post about it? I haven't seen it covered anywhere else.

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Laz Sloan said...

Hi Another Angry Voice. I've come across UK Updates too- which looks a like a simple easy news page- but spouting anti-Corbyn, pro-Boris propaganda. Worse thing is, I can't find out who's writing this stuff. I've googled the "authors" and nothing pops up. Is this something you can look into?

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