Daryl Morey is believed to have been targeted in a coordinated harassment campaign following his Tweet showing support for Hong Kong.
Morey's account was flooded with comments from pro-Chinese-government accounts that mentioned him more than 16,000 times, according to an analysis by Ben Nimmo, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.
“It looks like there were humans at the keyboard for many of these posts,” Nimmo said. “This wasn’t primarily a bot swarm. It was a troll mob. Which is a lot harder to deal with.”
The study shows 22% came from accounts with 0 followers at some point last week and 50% were from accounts with fewer than 13 followers. There were 4,855 total users in all who had never tweeted until they replied to Morey, and 3,677 accounts didn’t exist until his Tweet.
“I’m not saying this is a state-affiliated operation,” Linvill said. “But I’ve only seen so many brand-new accounts used at one time when it was a state-affiliated operation.”
Morey deleted his tweet in less than an hour.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.