When Big Tech Is In Bed With Government

Being doxed by a Twitter account linked to a joint intelligence operation

On January 29th, 2019, in the midst of having my Twitter account swarmed by hordes of inauthentic accounts, there was a flurry of notifications, in particular, that I found especially troubling.

Two weeks prior, I tweeted a thread highlighting how #WeSupportPolandSummit was manipulated, resulting in the hashtag trending:

The following week, I tweeted a thread noting how the same group of accounts similarly gamed #IraniansWantIRIBban to trend:

My Twitter account had effectively been rendered useless since calling attention to the manipulation of #WeSupportPolandSummit. From that moment forward — and for the next several weeks — my Twitter notifications were flooded by hundreds of anonymous accounts seeking to discredit my findings. The accounts would spread disinformation about me (i.e. that I am being funded by the Iranian regime) in a fashion that was hilariously coordinated.

By this point I was accustomed to brushing off threats (including ones of death) from anonymous Twitter accounts — something I frequently encountered while calling attention to accounts engaging in platform manipulation.

Seeing these notifications, however, I immediately became overtaken by a feeling of uneasiness. This was my first experience with being doxed.

Meet Aleph (@no_itsmyturn)

I reported the tweets from Aleph (@no_itsmyturn) that shared private information about myself and my family within minutes after they had been posted:

Next, I shared the tweets with a number of friends so they, too, could report them.

I figured it would be worthwhile to email Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, as well. After all, Dorsey had replied to my email in the past, hence I was confident it would reach his inbox (vs. his junk mail).

The email, which (in addition to Dorsey) was addressed to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead, included a subject line of “EMERGENCY — I am being doxed” and linked to the tweets in question:

I attempted to calm my nerves by assuring myself that this content would be taken down in a timely fashion.

In reality — and despite being reported by myself and more than 20 other accounts —the tweets from @no_itsmyturn remained on Twitter’s platform, exposing private information about myself and my family, for more than 10 hours.

OK, But That Was More Than Two Years Ago

The @no_itsmyturn account came onto my radar again recently when I noticed that Jason Brodsky, the Policy Director of United Against Nuclear Iran, retweeted a tweet pointing to Aleph’s account being suspended last Friday (March 5th, 2021):

According to Aleph’s other account — @hey_itsmyturn — which tweets in Persian (vs. the English tweeting @no_itsmyturn), the account was “suspended for calling out an #Iran-backed Shiite-militia-Apologist Ali Al Ahmad:”

According to Ali Al Ahmad, the @no_itsmyturn account was suspended once he reported it “after unhinged tweets against [him]:”

Twitter suspended my account in July 2019 — after months of dealing with being mass reported by nefarious actors who sought to silence me.

Meanwhile, they continue to allow the @no_itsmyturn account to spread disinformation about Ali Al Ahmad (and others!), years after giving the account the nod after it was brought to the attention of Twitter executives for doxing me in January 2019.

Aleph’s recent suspension was short-lived and the account reemerged within hours:

Moreover, Aleph’s account was suspended for 7 days back in October 2019:

So, What’s Your Point?

Since Twitter refuses to suspend Aleph’s account after numerous violations of their own rules, Social Forensics decided to take a closer look at the Followers of the @no_itsmyturn account.

Surely, there must be a reason as to why Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Vijaya Gadde allow accounts like this one to continually terrorize their users?

Wait, this had to be a mistake.

Double-checking the data confirmed the @no_itsmyturn account was being followed by former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer (Fleischer follows fewer than 1.6K accounts):

Wait a minute? Jonathan Conricus, the International Spokesperson of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was also following the account that doxed me back in January 2019 (Lieutenant Colonel Conricus follows fewer than 700 accounts):

The next familiar large account encountered while reviewing Aleph’s Followers was @meshaluk — an account that plays a core role in amplifying Saudi state-sponsored propaganda:

And that’s when it hit me: could Aleph be linked to a joint intelligence operation?

These are but a few of the accounts following @no_itsmyturn that shed some light as to why Twitter executives refuse to enforce their rules here.

Furthermore, Social Forensics has mapped and reviewed @no_itsmyturn’s social graph and can state, with certainty, that demanding more transparency — both from Twitter and from government — is the only way forward.

More to come (re: that analysis) in a future post!

Social Forensics maps and monitors social connections and activity.

We create purposefully designed tools to manage social data analytics needs across various industries. Our focus is audience segmentation and identifying coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) across social media platforms.

Geoff Golberg is an NYC-based researcher (and entrepreneur) who is fascinated by graph visualization/network analysis — more specifically, when applied to social networks and blockchain activity. His experience spans structured finance, ad tech, and digital marketing/customer acquisition, both at startups and public companies.

Geoff is the Founder/CEO/Janitor of Social Forensics.

CEO & Founder, Social Forensics | Previously: Co-Founder, Elementus | Featured in BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, and Quartz, among others | SocialForensics.com