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‘Unusual Twitter accounts levels of activity raised suspicion’

The Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change in the Cape Town University research project Jesse Kahn is discussing the Twitter accounts of the RET network of forces that incited violence and demanded Zuma’s release.

Two weeks ago, Police Minister Becky Celle mentioned that law enforcement had a list of 12 suspects involved in fueling the robberies and violence committed in various parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

The Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change, a non-profit organization based at the University of Cape Town’s School of Business, took a look at the suspects’ social media accounts, which were central to the incitement that caused the chaos and destruction in both provinces.

Jesse Kahn, the Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change at the University of Cape Town research project, says their work focuses on analyzing and researching online conversations.

We are not an investigative organization and we do not do forensic work, what we do is look at what is happening online and report the conversation.

Jesse Kahn, Research Project Leader at the Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change – University of Cape Town

We noticed a jump in conversations in the second week of July. Our team then set about digging into this content and looking for publications containing physical mobilization, such as meeting at the time, calls for riots and violence. Once we found this content, we looked at the hashtags used on each page to organize and coordinate specific content.

Jesse Kahn, Research Project Leader at the Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change – University of Cape Town

We then use these postings of concern along with the hashtags and put them in analytics software, and this gave us a large set of data from all the tweets using that particular hashtag.

Jesse Kahn, Research Project Leader at the Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change – University of Cape Town

When we approached the top 12 accounts, they had activity levels we had never seen before. We had accounts averaging over 800 single tweets with a story a day, and that caught our attention because it’s a red flag.

Jesse Kahn, Research Project Leader at the Center for Analysis and Behavioral Change – University of Cape Town

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Kahn said the accounts stood out because they used the hashtags that supported the former president exclusively, and added that most users used anonymous accounts with stolen photos and were mostly involved in a story.

Listen to the full interview below …


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