04 Dec

#DebateEnRedes: What is known about these accounts which influence Argentinian politics on Twitter

Por Ariel Riera, Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 30 de December, 2019 at 3:09 pm

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • There are often users in this platform with no recognized names who create controversies about political issues and consider themselves authorities due to the number of retweets they receive.
  • Chequeado was able to communicate with many of them. Many of them asked to remain anonymous and clarified that they did not receive financial incentives for the tweets.
  • Among the accounts supporting the government, @VivirPorBoca gained the most followers in 2019 (240%). Among the accounts related to the Frente de Todos, @etupito grew 275%.

Twitter is the fourth most popular social network in the country (after WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram). According to data from the consulting company Carrier y Asociados published in August 2019, 20% of Argentinians use this platform. Employees and journalists often share ideas and information in their tweets about current political, economic and social issues. That is why the messages are often used as a source of information.

Chequeado analyzed accounts with a large amount of influence (due to their number of followers and retweets) inside the political debate in the Argentinian Twitter, both for and against the government. We chose and tracked users with influence on the network or who often appear in other studies (such as here and here).

We selected users who are not publicly recognized outside of the network. Because of that, we excluded employees and journalists such as Gustavo Sylvestre, Juan Amorín and Mariana Moyano (from the community close to the Kirchnerism); and Eduardo Feinmann, Gabriel Levinas or Ignacio Montes de Oca (from the community connected with the Cambiemos).

We used Trendsmap to register how their follower numbers varied over the last year, the words they used the most in their tweets and the accounts they retweeted the most. We also observed their first tweets in order to check whether there were any variations in the content they talk about, and we tried to contact each of them in other to learn other characteristics. Five of the 10 accounts we contacted replied.

Among influential accounts associated with the bubble close to the Cambiemos, these stand out:

Lautaro Román Lorenzo (@lautiroman1995)

The user @lautiroman1995, with 289,701 followers, is managed by a person named Lautaro Lorenzo. When contacted by us, he said he is 24 years old, is from Florencio Varela, and became interested in politics while studying journalism: “Every time I had to make a television or radio program or create a graph, I chose politics.

Lorenzo has been active on Twitter since October 2010, and told Chequeado that he only started tweeting about politics in 2014. However, since his first tweet, which was published in December 29, 2013, he has demonstrated his criticism of Kirchnerism.

One of the words he used the most in his messages was “macri” (3.7% of the tweets in 2019). He said he is outraged with “the duplicity of criteria: the case when ‘if you do this, it’s wrong’”; and also “the lack of conviction”, “the ambition for power”, “the corruption, the impunity and the slowness of justice”.

Like the other users we contacted, he said he does not plan his messages, but tweets “according to what happens on a given day”. He added: “While I publish information, I add my opinion”.

He also said that he has not received financial incentives for tweets about politics, but he has received offers for tweets about other topics, such as for a television series.

Diego Álzaga Unzué (@AtlanticSurff)

The account @AtlanticSurff is one of the most controversial. With 138,158 followers (growing from 100 thousand to 138 thousand in one year, or 38%), it is indicated to be fake account in academic studies. The account’s name could be fictional, because there were also news indicating that Australian model Nick Youngquest accused it of using one of his pictures for the profile.

In addition, Gregorio Dalbón, one of the lawyers of vice-president-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, criticized him on Twitter and called him a “VIP gnocchi of the PRO [Argentinian political party Proposta Republicana]”, associating him with the Ministry of Transport. He has also showed a photo of his supposed real identity with the name “Octavio Paulisse” or “Paulise”:

In October 2018, Graciela Camaño, a national deputy for the Consenso Federal, presented a report to the Chamber of Deputies about the “Cambiemos Troll-Center” elaborated by the team of the Frente Renovador. In the report, she states that Paulise (with a single “s”) is “a social media manager for Guillermo Dietrich” and that he charges “the Ministry of Transport 52 thousand pesos for an agreement with the Road Safety Agency”. He points to the same news piece that spreads fake news, extorts celebrities and usurps other identities on Twitter, such as that of journalist Magdalena Ruiz Guiñazú.

@AtlanticSurff got in touch with Chequeado and denied that Paulise, who he claims to have passed away, has anything to do with the account. He mentioned that he has never known him in person, that his name was Diego, and that he started tweeting about Big Brother before getting involved in politics. In July, the journalist Fabián Doman read a message in the program Intratables which he attributed to the Casa Rosada, stating that Paulise had died of cancer. His critics claim that someone else took over the account after the death (for example, see here and here).

The words used the most often by @AtlanticSurff this year were “cfk” (15.9%), “kirchnerism” (12.5%) and “macri” (12%); and the user who shared his tweets the most was @PaisPPT (21.8%), an account which is currently suspended.

Atendedor (@Hellr00t)

The user @Hellr00t, known as “Atendedor”, has 71,516 followers and was activated in September 2010. He told us that he is 28 years old and lives in Buenos Aires. The name “comes from a nickname that was used in the old IRC chats”, he explained, referring to the Internet Relay Chat, a protocol that enabled conversations between many users in chat rooms, used nowadays for online gaming.

@Hellr00t joined Twitter in 2010, but his first visible tweet is from 2012. When asked about this, he told Chequeado that he had to “remove his first tweets because the Twitter rules were changing”, and added: “Let’s just say my first tweets were not very adequate for the current rules”.

Among the 5 most frequent words used in his tweets this year are “macri” (5.4%), cristina (4.5%) and kirchnerism (3.7%). He emphasized that he has criticized the former president “ever since he can remember”. His first visible tweet containing criticism to Fernández de Kirchner is from 2013.

When questioned about the content the publishes, “Atendedor” clarified that he does not plan his messages and writes what he thinks or what comes to his mind “at the moment”. “In fact, if I miss that moment, I end up not tweeting anything. I can spend months without tweeting”, he said.

Lastly, he asked for complete anonymity (he did not even wanted to disclose his initials) and clarified that he has never received financial incentives to direct the content of his messages.

Alejandro Collareda (@ElCoya1977)

Starting in December 2015, the account @elcoya1977 currently has 50,382, increasing from 36 thousand to 50 thousand in the last year (39%). After being questioned many times, he confirmed on Twitter in May 2018 that his name is Alejandro Collareda.

In addition, in September, he replied to the economist Guillermo Nielsen: “What’s up, Guillermo. My name is Alejandro Collareda. 41 years old. Married. 2 daughters. I have two jobs. And in my free time, I fight to ensure that people like you never again hold public office. Best regards”.

We observed that he has always published political tweets, for example with criticism to Daniel Scioli, the former governor of Buenos Aires for the Frente para la Victoria. Among the words he used the most on Twitter this year are “Kirchnerism” (6.5%), followed by “day” (10.9%), “all” (10.8%) and “thank you” (8%). The account that retweeted him the most in 2019 was Carolina Piparo (@CarolinaPiparo), a Buenos Aires deputy for the Cambiemos.
On the other hand, the news piece “Trolls and attacks to the freedom of speech of journalists and human rights defenders on Twitter in Argentina”, elaborated by Amnesty International, suggests that @ElCoya1977 is an influential account “of officialism” which, in addition to being an authority, is an account that enables “aggressions against those that differ from the official line and facilitate the contact between accounts belonging to trolls or bots and the rest of the community.” Chequeado also tried to contact this account, but received no reply.

Ulises Chaparro (@VivirPorBoca)

The user Ulises Chaparro (@VivirPorBoca) has 17,201 followers, increasing from 5 thousand to 17 thousand in one year (240%). His account has been active since February 2013. The word he used the most in his tweets in 2019 was “macri” (7.1% of his tweets).

Chaparro told Chequeado that he is 21 years old and lives in the Greater Buenos Aires. He says he does not plan the tweets: “I’ve learned that the best tweets, those with the most impact, are the ones that come out spontaneously, is a moment of anger or with some situation of that moment”. In addition, he said he has received “economic incentives to tweet (not specifically about politics), but about other topics”.

The accounts with the most interactions normally appearing in the bubbles close to Kirchnerism are:

Periodista de Perón (@periodistaperon)

With 86,951 followers (increasing by 10 thousand followers in 2019), the account @periodistaperon belongs to the website periodistadeperon.com, which defines itself as a “space for public communication”, a digital communication platform “made with hard work, using the web and the social networks to share news, ideas and points of view that are usually silenced by the hegemonic media”.

According to the website, Horacio Torres (@Horacio246) is its director, and he is one of the users who retweets messages from @periodistaperon the most often. He preferred not to answer any questions when we contacted him.

In 2019, “macri” (14.3%) and “government” (8.2%) were some of the words that stood out in his tweets.

TuiteroK (@CadaVezMasK)

The account Tuitero K currently has 57,401 followers (increasing by 7 thousand in 2019). The user, who did not want to say their name and asked us to call them “A”, said that they are 42 years old and live in the South of the Cordoba province.

“Since I have taken a political stance, I chose a name that clearly states this position”, they said. They have been using the social network since April 2011 and remained inactive until the middle of 2012.

“I started to say my opinions about politics during the rise of the radio and television programs who insulted the previous government. I needed to vent what I considered, and still consider, lies or half-truths”, they added.

In 2019, “macri” (3.2%) and “government” (3%) were some of the words that stood out in their tweets. On that regard, “A” clarified that they write what they want and, in many cases, are motivated by the topics they read in their timeline. “I am outraged with the consolidation of a story (the establishment of post-truth) through the use of the dominant positions of the communication vehicles”, they emphasized.

Like the other users we contacted, Tuitero K stated that: “I have never received any financial incentive. I would never sell my opinions. I support what I like and that’s it”.

Silvita (@cynsiempre)

The account @CyNSiempre currently has 57,280 followers, which slowly decreased over the year. It has been active since September 2013, and its first tweet was published on the 7th day of that month, due to the suspension of the account @CFKyNKeternos.

According to Trendsmap, the words used the most in its tweets during this year were “government” (5.2%), “macri” (5%) and “against” (3.1%). In the same period, the journalist Juan Alonso (@jotaalonso) retweeted @CyNSiempre the most. Chequeado got in contact and received no reply.

Tupito (@etupito)

Tupito presents herself as a “troll tamer” and has 45,423 followers accumulated since April 2014. She increased from 12 thousand to 45 thousand followers, or 275%. Her first tweet if from July 16, 2018, when she told the antiperonist user and Cambiemos supporter @CordobaRoca to say goodbye to his account. One of the words that stand out in her tweets in 2019 was “macri” (6.9%). Chequeado also tried to contact this account, but received no reply.

Sustrato Peronista (@juan_dpdp)

The account @juan_dpdp, named “Sustrato Peronista”, joined Twitter in August 2012 and currently has 43,520 followers. Their first visible tweet is a reply that is not explicitly related to politics, but demonstrates that they use insults as a way to comment, which happens again later (for example, see here).

Among the words that stood out in 2019 in their tweets are “macri” (6.6%) and “government” (5.5%). The account that shared their content the most was @eldestapeweb, the official account of the media vehicle eldestapeweb.com led by journalist Roberto Navarro.

This account had large repercussion with a tweet about a woman who the carabineros (an ostensive police institution in Chile) supposedly made disappear in Chile, Carolina Muñoz Manguello, which was revealed to be false. According to El Polígrafo, the fact-checking initiative of the newspaper El Mercurio, there is nobody with that name in the country. The person who the carabineros put inside the vehicle in the video is in fact a young man called Alejandro Muñoz Aguayo (the tweet mentioned that “Alejandro Muñoz Manguello” was the father of the victim), who was released some hours later, as confirmed in a video published by the Diario Concepción in Chile. Chequeado also tried to contact this account, but they did not reply.

In summary, the accounts analyzed demonstrate that, as stated by Ernesto Calvo, a professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland, United States, in his book Anatomía política de Twitter en Argentina (Political Anatomy of Twitter in Argentina), published in 2015, although the networks democratize the access and spread of information, not all users have the same weight. The more followers and account has, the more likely it is to amplify the messages it shares and to form communities or bubbles that correspond with its views.

6/12/2019 update:

The title of this note was changed after this publication, as it was causing confusion. The original version mentioned “the influencers in Argentinian politics”. The term “influencer” is used in the Trendsmap tool to show how many accounts are involved in the debate about a given topic (for example, politics) and have the largest number of followers. The users chosen also appear in the studies of the network as having an influence on the conversation on Twitter. In addition, the term “troll” refers to someone who, for financial incentive or otherwise, focuses or harassing, criticizing or antagonizing in a provocative and derogatory manner. However, that same person or account may behave in that way for some time and later tweet about other issues. We are also not talking about anonymous accounts, since the 10 cases analyzed do not necessarily have fake identities.

The article originally stated that the account @Atlanticsurff had not replied to the questions, which happened after the publication. For that reason, lines about that account were added.

* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Chequeado, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.

The analysis is available the website of Chequeado here.