Amber Heard, Female Fans Harassed in Organized Twitter Campaign

Many of the online abusers were real people acting together, not bots, says research firm Bot Sentinel, which analyzed over 14,000 tweets

During and after the defamation trial of the year, Amber Heard and her female online supporters were the target of an organized campaign of harassment that is “one of the worst cases of cyberbullying and cyberstalking by a group of Twitter accounts” a team of online investigators looking into the matter has ever seen.

As CBS News reports, on Monday the research firm Bot Sentinel released the findings of its analysis of more than 14,000 tweets that included at least one of four viral anti-Heard hashtags that painted her as a liar or an abuser: #AmberHeardIsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardLsAnAbuser, #AmberHeardIsALiar and #AmberHeardLsALiar.

It was found that nearly a quarter of accounts tweeting while using negative hashtags about Heard were created in the last seven months. Nearly one in five accounts that tweeted the anti-Heard hashtags were “dedicated to spamming,” the reports states. There were also 627 accounts focused “exclusively” on tweeting about Heard and her female supporters.

The trolling didn’t stop with “vulgar and threatening” language. In one case, a user who tweeted in defense of Amber Heard—a prominent female academic—was doxxed, and a photo of her deceased child was replaced as her user pic in order to torment her.

Many of these anti-Heard trolls were real people, not bots, said Bot Sentinel founder Christopher Bouzy.

“It does not necessarily mean a bunch of folks in a small room, some place in St. Petersburg that are working together,” Bouzy said. “It could just be a group of people who are against Amber Heard, and they decide on another platform—whether it’s Switch or Discord or whatever—’We’re going to attack; let’s coordinate together.'”

The organized nature of the attacks were apparent to Eve Barlow, a friend and vocal supporter of Heard, who said Bot Sentinel’s findings were not surprising.

“It corroborates a lot of what we know and have been saying,” Eve Barlow, a journalist, told CBS News. “Anyone who stands for Amber in front of the firing line, you’re not even low-hanging fruit, you’re an easy target.”

The verdict? Twitter should have done more.

The company wrote that, “It’s our opinion Twitter didn’t do enough to mitigate the platform manipulation and did very little to stop the abuse and targeted harassment. Twitter essentially left the women to fend for themselves with little to no support from the platform.”

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