Auspol Reminder: Sock Puppet Accounts Can Bite You

Auspol Reminder: Sock Puppet Accounts Can Bite You
Image: Getty Images

Social media has often been given a hard time for the ease in which fake accounts can be created and then used to influence trending topics and the spread of information – or more accurately disinformation. And then there are politicians, who during a busy election campaign use the wrong social account.

Angus Taylor, the Federal member for Hume and Minister for Energy and former Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity, has been on the campaign trail and recently announced the availability of an extra 1000 parking spots for rail commuters in his NSW electorate. The news was so good that Angus Taylor MP was allegedly congratulated by… Angus Taylor MP.

Image: Twitter

Many people have multiple social media accounts. I have a personal account as well as accounts for a couple of businesses I run. And it’s important to be careful about which accounts I use to tweet or post specific messages. On Facebook, it’s actually a bit of a pain to slip between different personas if you manage a group or want to post as yourself.

It appears Taylor learned this the hard way when he apparently congratulated himself. He (or more likely, his social media manager) should have been using what’s often known as a “sock puppet” account. This is an account you control but doesn’t look like it’s actually you.

It’s a way of adding seemingly independent comments to your feed.

If you’re managing multiple social media accounts and handles, it’s important to check before you hit the “Post” button.

A good way to do this is to schedule your posts, even if it’s just a few minutes into the future so you have a chance to either review or get someone else to check before the comment appears. Most social media platforms allow you to schedule posts either directly or you can do it by using third party tools like Hootsuite.

As the former Minister for Cybersecurity, you’d think Taylor would have his online presence sorted out so such a cock-up couldn’t happen but it seems he may have been a little over-zealous in his self congratulation. Let’s hope he didn’t dislocate his shoulder patting himself on the back.

I should add that the comment – if it was indeed from Taylor – is no longer on his Facebook account. This could mean that it was removed by his team or that the tweeted image is a doctored fake. Either way, the lesson about ensuring you use the right account when commenting or posting is important.

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